Yesterday’s Easter message began with the story of a girl’s hope chest and how she stored inside it all the special things in which she was placing her future hope.
Our minister went on to talk about the fact that each of us has a “hope chest” in life, a box in which we place our “hope.”
The visuals he chose to use will stick with me forever. They helped me understand how I am able to face life day after day in spite of my grief. I had to photograph them after church so that I could share them with you.
The first box in which many people place their hope is the one that contains their finances. Trusting in our bank account, our investments, and on and on can often bring a sense of false security. Truthfully, at any moment what we have gained financially can be lost through falling stock markets or unexpected tragedies that deplete our funds. While we can be thankful for the things God has given us, we do not want to place our hope in money.The second box in which people place their hope is the one that contains their achievements. Promotions and awards can bring feelings of accomplishment but like financial gains, these feelings of temporary satisfaction eventually fade leaving us longing for more. While we should strive to be the best we can be as we serve God, we should never place our hope in the recognition we receive.The third box holds our relationships. Being loved feels great, but needing to be loved in order to feel worth can become a trap and a disappointment. People let us down. People break commitments. Earthly love can often bring pain. While God has given us the gift of loving others, we must remember that His love is the only love that never fails or forsakes.The next box holds our identity, our image. Placing our hope in such a temporary aspect of who we are eventually brings deep pain and anxiety. Our bodies will eventually fail us. Even who we are today will become a “thing of the past” tomorrow. I think of my identity as being a “mom” and how through the years I have had to let go of so many of my “mom roles” as my kids have grown from infants to toddlers to preteens to teens and now to adults…my identity cannot rest in being a mommy. My identity must be found in Christ. Finally, our minister opened an empty box.
“THIS IS WHERE YOU SHOULD PLACE YOUR HOPE!” he said.
An empty box.
Nothing to see or touch.
He went on to say that this box represented the empty tomb.
Jesus was not there!
He had risen!
And because of this, we can confidently place our hope in the power of the resurrection.
Money fades. Trophies break. Relationships come and go. Our identity transforms.
But the empty tomb?
Its power lasts for eternity!
As the sermon ended, we were asked to take a piece of paper out of our bulletin that contained the word, “hope,” and place it in the right box…..the empty one.
Watching several hundred people come forward, holding on to “hope” and then publicly saying, “My hope is in the right box” as they placed their hope in the empty chest was very powerful.
An elderly man, who struggled to keep his balance, arrived at the stairs at the same time as I did. I held his arm as we walked to the box together. His hands were empty, and he just looked at me and said, “I have mine.” He came all the way down the aisle just to stand there at the box. I guess he wanted to carry his hope home with him, but at the same time, he wanted to acknowledge that he was placing his hope in the right box. I don’t know his name, but I know I’ll never forget watching him stand there at the right box, his feeble legs and arms shaking and tears in his eyes.
Today, I woke up early and I know it was because I wanted to write to all of you before beginning my Monday morning.
I just had to ask you, “In which box are you placing your hope?”
I hope you choose the empty one!
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf.