On the verge of celebrating 66 Christmas times I look back with some nostalgia mixed with unspoken regrets. It is too late for some of the career choices I had hoped to make. It is too late for some of the ministry I had once thought I would do. It is too late for more children. It is too late for another talk with Dad, a different way I could have treated my family or even better stewardship of the money that has passed through my hands. But Martha’s encounter with Jesus at the edge of Bethany gives me hope that:
It is never too late for Him to come. It is never too late to listen to His word. His heart has been with me and you every moment of every hour and He has come to share this day with us. Even now; tombs will be opened, grave clothes removed and life renewed at the sound of His voice! No matter the moment, no matter thehour it is never too late for Jesus!
No matter how you were hurt or how greatly you failed Yesterday was the last day of the past of your life – Today is the first of the rest!
I see myself at heaven’s door
I can hear its hinges creak
Around its frame a light shines out
As it opens before the King
What have you brought He asks
From the life you lived on earth?
Oh not a lot I sadly say
As I struggle to begin
Well, there were the mission’s trips
And every day I prayed
And regularly I read your word
And all the tithes I gave
When I stopped – he paused and gently said
That’s not why angels sing
Those were not from your deepest heart
But just temporary things
But the forgiveness you gave your parents
When their divorce left you alone
And the love you shared with strangers
When you opened up your home
And the tears of repentance that you wept
And your confession in the dark
These are the things that I truly treasure
And for these there is a crown
In the desperate or dark places of life hope is like the window through which we can see tomorrow. When we allow our circumstances or feelings to pull down the blinds life can become very dark. But if we rejoice even in tribulation the window will open and the breath of God will refresh and heal our hearts!
Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. Luke 22:20 NKJV
As Jesus offered the bread and wine He served Thomas the doubter and Peter the denier. He gave his gift to disciples who slept when he asked them to pray. He gave a hope for a restored relationship with the Father who loved them so much that He was willing to give them His only Son. Even though they all ran away He was lighting the fire with His passion of a hope that has burned for 2000 years. That is the Hope restored for everyone who believes and asks Jesus Christ for that new chance at life that He gave at His Last Supper!
Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. Psalm 73:25
Hoping for heaven has sometimes been given a bad rap by the church. Some of this has been a push back on old hymns and past sermons that focused exclusively on heavenly bliss and ignored the importance of our time on earth. But neither our greatest victories, our worst failures, our highest dreams nor our worst sufferings can compare with what lies ahead for us in heaven.
When our boys were young they made for themselves wooden plaques with their names carved in them to hang over the doors to their rooms. It was their way of staking out their own personal territory. In the same way God has staked out a territory in heaven for each of us who have put our hope in Jesus Christ. He has engraved our name over the door of our home there. There is nothing wrong with that great joyful longing to be together forever with Jesus in the place He has prepared for us. We can say with David, “Who do I have either in heaven or earth but you Lord?” This hope of heaven strengthens our hearts in life’s storms and lightens our load so we can carry the burdens of others. This hope shines through any dark night and lights our path all the way to our home!
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 43:5
Have you ever been so down that you just couldn’t even sing even in church? You don’t need to feel alone because even King David the writer of the song book of the Bible, came to that place; and said so not once, not twice but three different times. David had bravely faced had Goliath and defeated him, but when he found himself hunted by his father-in-law and some of the same soldiers with whom he had fought beside in battle he became discouraged. Then his wife was taken from him and given to another man and he was separated from his best friend Jonathan and was forced to hide in the countryside. That was when he reminded himself that he would again praise God because all his hope came from Him. Yes, there are times when we as believers struggle to praise God. But God’s word gives us hope so that at those exact moments we can say, “Hold on! This is not the end! There is still hope! I will praise Him again!