GodReflection: A Secure Grip On Hope.
Today ends this series of posts inspired from the life of Dr. Owen E. Puckett, my great uncle of Arkansas origin, born in 1875. His story as an established physician who set out in the company of five brothers in 1915, to build a ranch near the village of Hope in the newly opened state of New Mexico has served over the past several weeks to cause me to reflect anew on the hope we have in Jesus.
For no apparent reason, after ten successful years, the clear stream that fed their grasslands and orchards went underground and cut off the water supply to their new venture. When hope for the ranch died, He moved sixty miles south to the town of Carlsbad as a fulltime health official for Eddy County.
Dr. Puckett was family and a member of our church in my early years. He stood out as a role model who reflected Jesus for a young boy’s formative years. Last month marked fifty-three years since his death. It has been good to reflect on the legacy he modeled to myself and countless others of hope he found in Jesus the one to whom he committed his life.
This morning I find myself in thought about a recent phone call from my sister. She and her husband just returned home from a rich visit with another sister and brother-in-law. Hope, New Mexico was on their route. As they passed through the mostly boarded-up little village they could not help but take a few pictures of a place of family legacy.
On their return trip the highway led from the village of Hope and out of the Chihuahuan Desert. It climbs slowly toward the Sacramento Mountains. That road winds upward to a place of tall shade trees, abundant water, animals of God’s creation, a place where life is sustained.
To an infinitely greater degree, is that not the role hope plays in the Christian-walk? With the birth of Jesus as God into our world, his life, sacrificial death, victorious resurrection over death, and ascension, God became King. The Holy continues to build a nation to reflect the Holy.
We who commit to his kingship find ourselves led from the desert of decay, resource shortage, and death toward eternal abundance. Yes, it is hope that leads. From God’s past actions on my behalf and based on his promises, let me share with you where I believe it leads.
First, hope leads from my encounter with Jesus, through the unknown, until my death. I serve Father, Son, and Spirit, the Creator(s) of the heavens, the earth with its occupants—that include me. I still marvel that our walk-through life is wrapped in the unknown. None of us know with assurance what the next hour will bring. Yet, rays of hope shine along my path.
Unrecognizable to me at the time, the trust seed was planted in my first encounter with Jesus. Like the mustard seed the Spirit started it to grow until its branches continue to entangle all of life. Sure, I feel my ups and downs, but over the long walk of life trust in Jesus grows.
From that trust springs hope. In hope I place my confidence that God is now King. He is in charge. He reigns to his eternal purposes and for my good. It is that hope that covers me as I walk step-by-step toward my final day on earth.
Second, hope leads through the unknowns between my last breath on this earth and my first eternal breath in a restored body on the new earth.
As I read and study Scripture, I find little information about the nature of my existence between my departure at death from this earth and my resurrection into a new body on a renewed earth. My Bible is mostly silent on the subject. I believe my soul (me) will be at rest, free from all pain and suffering, and that about covers what I know. Once again hope leads me to trust the Holy to be in charge. Hope leads me to know that all will be well.
Finally, hope leads toward life beyond description on the new earth where I will live with The Holy through ALL eternity. I must confess, I am excited about life on the new earth. How do I put the following into words that are believable? The best I can tell the idea of “going to heaven” and living as a floating spirit in an eternal church service is an idea grounded in Plato that lacks basis in Holy Scripture. Few over the last two hundred years have challenged the old philosopher’s theory. I am not going to heaven–the Holy is coming down to earth.
Father, Son, and Spirit, teach and work toward a restored earth under a new heaven when the Holy will descend to live among us in a sinless atmosphere forever. It is a consistent message traceable through both Old and New Testaments. The Holy Trinity’s eternal purpose climaxes with, I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.”
And the one who was seated on the throne said, “See, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Then he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. Revelation 21: 1-7)
Wow and double wow! What a future awaits us as children. It will be far beyond all expectations. So grand and glorious that I suspect the Holy knew we humans cannot begin to comprehend its wonder. Yes, I am excited about a new perfect earth, absent of all present evil, where good will be replace with an even stronger descriptor. That is where hope leads.
Let us encourage each other to place our trust in Jesus, pray, follow, and grow our hope founded in promises from The Holy. A hope that literally “Springs Eternal” as it leads to eternity with God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit as our neighbors on a new and good earth.
How about it? Will you recommit to the journey?
Dr. Gary J. Sorrells
A GodReflection on Where Does Hope Lead?