A New Hope: Focusing on the Right Anchor
Have you ever thought and wondered about candles on a birthday cake? Why do we do it and then even more so, why do we invite someone to blow all over that cake, which we are all about to eat? No where else in society do we ask for someone else to blow all over our food. You don’t venture out to the latest trendy restaurant and expect to have the waiter exhale profusely onto your steak as they set it before you. But, it is a tradition established deep into the heart of our birthday celebrations.
Another birthday tradition that is even more confusing than blowing out candles; the birthday wish. Have we as parents really thought this through and contemplated the significance of the message of hope we convey in this practice? Where does our hope come from? Or more importantly, where is our hope tied?
I remember back to my childhood years and some of the crazy wishes I cast during those celebrations. While many of them are gone from any recallable memory, I do remember a wish cast one birthday party. In the city I grew up, we had often little, in the way of exciting locations to patron, but for a brief stint, there was a “Pistol Pete’s Pizza.” At Pistol Pete’s, there were video games galore, rides, and tons of other things to entertain a bunch of kids. My parents setup a birthday party and invited tons of my friends. We had an incredible time playing, eating pizza and enjoyed the party. Still to this day, it is one of my most memorable moments as a little kid.
Cake was wheeled out, the birthday song sung - and now: the wish. What should I wish for, what was my greatest need, want or desire? I hadn’t even stopped to contemplate it or figure it out, but now all of the sudden there was a moment of panic, what do I wish for? As I rapidly scanned the kids there and wondered what to wish for, I remember a sense of trepidation. How could I have not prepared for this moment better?
The cake was ablaze with fire and people were expectantly waiting the wish and then on to eating their air-riddled cake, but in that moment my world spun out of control, wondering. Then, all of the sudden, my eye drifted towards my answer. Angela was there, my boyhood crush. She was right there, I actually was surprised at the fact she had come. It was so clear now, I would wish for her. I made some kind of kids wish of us “going out” - you know, the kids stuff dating scene. In the end, the wish was cast, candles were quenched and cake was eaten and on we all went, to enjoy the fun of Pistol Pete’s.
To this day, I remember Angela with great fondness, but we never “went out”, never became “an item”. She was a friend through out much of my teens, then, as college tends to do, we drifted apart and I haven’t spoken to her in decades. So, what with the wish, where do we place our hope? You see my soul, even as a little boy, desired a wife, someone to love me unconditionally and passionately. It is a desire engrained into each of us. A longing and a hope prevails in us all, for love, a spouse. My wife, Niki, is the greatest wife a man could ever gain. I am so grateful that God, in His great wisdom, didn’t grant my wish that day. He knew far better what I needed in a wife, and Niki is exactly it.
I have never met anyone that cites the power of some birthday wish as the reason their dreams came true. If we aren’t careful though, we can end up treating the element of hope a bit like a birthday wish.
We believe in hope, value hope and even promote hope to varying extents. There is really nothing wrong with that, after all, Jesus followers should be a people of great hope. But let’s take a step back for a second and be real. How is hope going to help you? Why is hope any better than a birthday wish? In and of itself, hope can’t conquer discouragement. Hope can’t change our circumstances; the rent is late, there’s no food in the pantry, no money in the bank and the bills are piled up. Has hope ever saved us? Ultimately, hope in hope is no hope at all.
Hope is like water for the human soul, but we must ensure that hope is based in something greater than mere wishful thinking. Our hope is only as powerful as that to which it is connected. As kids, many of our hopes are found in our parents. For most of us, our families might not have been wealthy, but as Americans, we are all incredibly blessed. Our hope for this toy or that toy was typically met in and by our parents. But if our hope became bigger than their pocketbooks, hope was quickly powerless. My hope for a 1.2 million dollar tour bus (at the age of 13 - mind you) was quickly dashed. Hope is only as powerful as that to which it is connected.
Where is your hope connected? To what is your hope tied to?
This is why our hope in Jesus is a secure and safe place for our hearts and souls. In Hebrews 6:19-20 it says,
“we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20 where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf…”
As Jesus followers, our hope is unique and empowered differently than all the other hopes in the world. It is not attached to our emotions, our plans, our relationships, our government, our families or our finances. It is connected to Jesus. We have a sure, steadfast, immovable anchor that our hope is tied to. His name is Jesus, and our hope in Him is never misplaced.
Today, to where does your hope tie? Have you been hopeful in hope alone? Or, are you hopeful in The Hope; Jesus?