By Khrystyne Kilgore
A friend of mine was brave enough to admit her struggle with understanding hope, recently. Well, I struggle with being a know-it-all, so of course I had the answer to her dilemma. It’s funny how humility works and always seems to line up with life just in the right time. You see, I thought I had figured out this whole hope thing, because in that moment my life was going really great. But in the following days my projection of hope would be shaken and shown for what it truly was.
I am currently reading a book on hope by a great modern theologian; it’s called Surprised By Hope by N.T. Wright. Wright argues that what we believe about life after death affects what we believe about life before death, which of course affects everything that we do and how we live our lives. Our future hope should be placed in the fulfillment of the coming Kingdom of God. But just how often is that the case? How much of the time do we place our hope in relationships, success, careers, degrees, even in the church?
Brief side note on what the phrase “fulfilment of the coming Kingdom of God” means. Theologians, philosophers, and scholars from every culture and religion have written books and wondered what life after death looks like. As Christians, we believe that Christ’s death, burial, resurrection, and ascension not only brought about His Lordship on the earth but was also the first fruit for all creation; all of creation will follow Christ’s model through resurrection. The whole created world is waiting on tiptoe for their Lord to return. The Lord we worship is near in Spirit and one day He will be present in body and at that time the whole world will know the transforming power of His presence.
I struggle with anxiety, which means I look to the future too much and try to control its outcome; but I don’t look far enough into the future. What I mean by that is I don’t look to God’s promise of the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. I worry about what I want my life to look like in two to five years and what I need to do now to accomplish those “hopes”. My “hopes” for the future always seemed well-meaning, at least I could justify them to lean that way. So I live with one foot here in today’s world and one foot in my perceived future’s world. This means I hold everything and everyone at arm’s length because I don’t want to get attached. Why have too meaningful of relationships if I’m just going to leave in two to five years?
Ever since I was in the eighth grade everything that I have done has been working towards a goal; the goal of going overseas and bringing the gospel of Christ to those who have never heard this life-giving and life-changing message. You can say I put all my eggs into one basket—missions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with desiring to go and proclaim the Word of the Lord, in fact, this is what we are called to do as believers. But that was my entire hope, the hope of going. My husband lovingly approached me and asked the earth-shattering question, “What if we aren’t called to missions? What if we aren’t supposed to go?” My whole world was shaken because that was where my hope was—in the going. It had become an idol; it had become my hope – something to look forward to. The thought of it got me through the toughest days and helped me live through the mundane.
Whether we stay or go we are called to be faithful, to live intentionally, and to hope in the future coming of the Kingdom of God. I’m still grasping at what this looks like. What I’ve come to understand right now is it means living faithfully TODAY, being obedient to God TODAY. Where are you placing your hope?