The Ultimate Hope

Since our dear Mom passed into eternity a few weeks ago, I have been thinking a lot about hope. I started reading John Eldredge’s All Things New which talks a lot about hope. Last blog, I quoted John a lot concerning the deep longing for hope that we all have.  I want to share some more insights John has about hope in this blog.

John says there are three kinds of hope:

For not all hopes are created equal; there are casual hopes, precious hopes, and ultimate hopes.


… Casual hopes are the daily variety: “I sure hope it doesn’t rain this weekend”; “I hope we can get tickets to the game”; “I really hope this flight is on time.”


… those casual hopes are nothing when compared to our precious hopes: “I hope this pregnancy goes well”; “I hope God hears my prayers for Sally.”  …


Deeper still lie our ultimate hopes, our life-and-death hopes. I would suggest that the only things that belong in the category of ultimate hopes are the things that will destroy your heart and soul if they are not fulfilled. “I hope God can forgive me.” “I hope somehow my mistakes can be redeemed.” “I hope I will see you again.”


Eldredge warns us not to allow these three different types of hope to carry the same weight with our heart and soul.


… many people have let their hopes go wandering—they have made casual hopes into precious hopes and turned genuinely precious hopes into critical or ultimate hopes.

That is a dangerous path for us. When we put too much weight onto our casual hopes or even our precious hopes, we are setting ourselves up for deep disappointment and hurt.

But what are our ultimate hopes? Many years ago, my friend  Kit McDermott told those who came to the Center for Renewal to learn how to listen to God, that “Everything Matters”. How does that tie to hope and to John Eldredge’s book?

Sitting with my Mom those 6 days while she was in a coma, you can easily drift into thoughts about “What matters?” “Can she hear us?” “Does it matter what we say in her presence?” “Does her life matter right now?

Eldredge’s understanding is that the ultimate hope is in the renewal of all things (thus the title). We are not going to go to some ethereal cloud based dwelling and play harps. Rather, he believes that God has shown us through the scriptures, that He is going to renew all things. Everything that is good on this earth will be renewed and made better. Every mountain vista that took our breath away will be restored and made even better. Every vocation that fulfilled a deep longing in us will be perfected and provide even more joy. Every relationship that we ever had will be made right. Our renewed bodies which are broken and battered will literally take our breath away.

We have lost many things as we’ve passed through the battlefields of this war-torn world; our humanity has been stripped of such essential goodness.

Then he states what I would say was the theme of the book.

Nothing is lost

By this I am fairly sure he means: “No good thing is lost.” As I think about and mourn the loss of our Mom, this gives me hope. An ultimate hope. All the years that she was a faithful mother of four children (five if you count my Dad who often was a big kid); all of those years as a dedicated wife and daughter and sister. All those years of waiting after my Dad’s death.

No good thing is lost. In that there is ultimate hope. And this hope will not disappoint.

Longing for Hope

I just spent the last 8 days sitting with my family as we watched our Mom slowly slip away. There are many end-of-life issues that surfaced during this time, but I want to reflect on hope. Certainly as we watch a loved one die, we have the hope for them to escape their pain and the degradation they are experiencing; we have the hope for them that they will be re-united with their loved ones who have gone before them;  we have the hope for us that we will see them again. But what is hope?

Last year, on our daughter’s recommendation, I picked up a copy of John Eldredge’s All Things New . But until last night I had not read it. Listen in on what John says about hope.

He begins the book with an assessment of our current condition which could be characterized with the words: “Life sucks.” These are not John’s words but as he assesses the state of our world he says:

We could sure use some hope right now. … We appear to be suffering a great crisis of hope. It’s taking place loudly in politics and economics; it’s taking place quietly in the hearts of millions at this moment.  … Optimism is not going to cut it. Trying to look on the bright side isn’t going to sustain us through days like we are living in.  …“We all feel the riddle of the earth,” wrote G. K. Chesterton.


I first noticed this “crisis of hope” while keeping track of the number of downloads of my sermons from our web site. For 21 years, year after year, the sermon downloaded the most was “Hoping in God, even if …” It is not the best sermon on hope and people download before they read it but it is indicative of what people are looking for. Recently I heard an interview with N.T. Wright and he expressed surprise that his most popular book was “Surprised by Hope.”

Although these our anecdotal, I think they are indicative that there is a deep longing in us for hope. John defines hope as:

When I speak of hope, I mean the confident anticipation that goodness is coming.


Then he tells us what hope does for us:

Hope literally heals the structures of your brain.


Next he identifies a latent desire for hope woven into our lives. He says

Some sort of promise seems to be woven into the tapestry of life. … That promise fits perfectly with the deepest longing of our hearts—the longing for life to come together as we somehow know it was always meant to. The whispers of this promise touch a wild hope deep within our hearts, a hope we hardly dare to name.


John wrote this even as he couldn’t wait for the year to end because of the deep tragedies he experienced during it. The rest of the book is a reflection on this longing we have “for life to come together as we somehow know” it is suppose to. But since I have not finished the book, we’ll have to pick that up in the next blog.

Let me know in the comment section if you feel that there is a promise of hope woven into your life. Certainly during the past 8 days I have experienced that deep longing. Do you feel that longing?

“Let hope keep you joyful. In trouble stand firm. Persist in prayer.”

Romans 12:12

Taming the Lesser Lights

The Milky Way
The Milky Way

Forty years ago, Barbara and I led a Bible study at Tom Brown’s house in West Hartford. Their young son had never been in the country until he visited Tom’s family in Pennsylvania. When the young boy looked up into the night sky, he saw stars for the first time. “What are those Daddy?” When Tom shared that story I realized for the first time the problem light pollution was posing for our generation. A 2016 National Geographic article reported that 80% of Americans can no longer see the Milky Way.

Westcliffe Colorado

During the Ash Wednesday service at our church tonight, the pastor told about two Colorado towns (Westcliffe and Silver Cliff) that have purposely  lowered their lesser lights at night in order to see the greater lights of the sky. She encouraged us to lower our lesser lights during this Lenten season in order to see the greater Light. Tame them if you will. Those lesser lights that distract us; that make us anxious; that we obsess about; that cause us to stumble; those burdens we take upon ourselves.

I was reminded of the lyrics of Keith and Kristyn Getty’s song Still, My Soul be Still.

Still my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows

Join me in making this a prayer this season preparing for Resurrection Sunday.

Jesus, help us to still our soul; to not be moved by the lesser lights and fleeting shadows, that we might see You, the greater Light who has come into this world.