Monday, May 14, 2012

Cultivating Hope, a Reflection by Annabel Catto

This book club post is a fraud. It’s not about a book. It’s about a sermon. In fact it’s not even about a sermon. It’s about one line from one sermon. But if you’ll forgive me, I think this one line is worth your pondering. Read on and see if you agree.

Charles Spurgeon, in his sermon ‘The Hope Laid up in Heaven’ (Sermon 1438), said ‘Cultivate, then, your hope, dearly beloved’. He said much more but let’s leave it there. The hope he had in mind was that of heaven, of glory, of eternal comfort in Jesus’ perfect Kingdom.  ‘Cultivate your hope’.

But how does one cultivate hope?

I’m no green thumb, but I know that to cultivate a plant you nurture it. Water it. Give it sun. Tend it. The opposite of ‘to cultivate’ is to leave it in the corner, do nothing and wish for the best.

Do we cultivate our hope for heaven? Do we grow our hunger for heaven? I take it this is an odd kind of hunger which you grow by feeding it rather than starving it.  Feeding it with thoughts and conversations about heaven and decisions which may only make sense when New Creation arrives.

Too often I think I put heaven in the corner of my mind, do nothing with it and expect it to mushroom into a sturdy, life-rejuvenating hope all on its own. But my hope needs cultivating. Not because Spurgeon says so but because the Bible does: I am to comfort others by talking about our heavenly future (1 Thess 4:18). I am to live looking forward to it (2 Pet 3:12-13). In some sense Spurgeon pulled up short. I am not only to cultivate my hope but also to capitalise on it – I am to store up treasures there (Matt 6:19-20).

If I put half as much time into thinking about heaven as I do thinking about my upcoming wedding…wow, my life would have such clarity!

This is a game I used to play on my way to work: for one minute as I walked through the city I’d look at my surroundings through a ‘last day lens’. When Jesus returns and the elements melt, what will last? What won’t? Odd game you may say, but I tell you what - It was refreshing, liberating and grounding all at the same time.

Feel free to give it a try, perhaps as you walk through Sydney’s beautiful Darling Harbour to EQUIP12 on Saturday. What will last? What won’t? And if you do come, come with your gardening gloves – ready to cultivate some hope!

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