The Power of Hope
When I serve in my church body, I run one of the cameras for Live Stream and for taping purposes. I really enjoy it. The downside is the tech team does all three gatherings (we don’t call them “services”). By the third gathering, I am tired; and my focus can falter if I am not on my “A” game! This past Sunday was my Sunday to serve. We had a guest speaker whose name was Daniel Tyler from Arkansas.
Usually when we have guest speakers, the camera people have to be on their toes because most speakers move about the stage. My lead pastor is relatively stationary, so another speaker keeps us focused! This past Sunday, Daniel sat with one of the pastors on staff and did a sit down interview. Through the interview, we heard Daniel’s testimony. It had impact; there wasn’t a moment that I lost focus!
Daniel told us about his early years living in a broken home with addictive parents. His Mom was hooked on crystal meth, and his Dad was an alcoholic and abusive. Needless to say, his early years were very unstable. By the time he was in high school, his heart was ripe for an encounter with Jesus. A “fine” (Daniel’s word) girl invited him to go to a worship experience at her church one evening. Of course, he didn’t want to really go; but she offered to do “whatever” with him afterwards. Naturally, he was ready for the “whatever” and thought he could endure the church for one night.
That worship experience changed his life. He encountered Jesus in a very real and physical way. As he listened to the message of love, Daniel questioned if this love was truly real. Daniel prayed if Jesus was real to make His presence known in a physical way. Daniel felt arms wrapping around him from behind. It was a father’s hug that he wanted so desperately to feel. When Daniel turned around to see this man, no one was there. That hug changed everything for Daniel.
When he got to school the next day, one of his friends asked him if he was ready for the party that weekend. Daniel told his friend his life had changed the night before. Daniel told him he meet Jesus. His friend was like, “Dude, I’m a Christian too!” We all chuckled when we heard this. But Daniel told us his response to his friend. “We’ve been friends for ten years; you knew my family’s circumstances; you had the answer that I needed all along and you didn’t tell me?” Wow. Nobody was chuckling then. It brought tears to my eyes (all three times I heard it).
How many times have we had this kind of wake-up call? We might not have experienced someone confronting us with our “Christian” apathy in this way, but is it not a reality that we face every day? There are people we encounter who are struggling with issues that we have the answer to but never utter a word. I would have been the “friend” that could have said the same thing Daniel’s friend said. And Daniel would have been right in questioning my silence. Daniel walked around every day feeling worthless. He felt like his life didn’t matter. He fell into the patterns of his parents; drugs and alcohol. It’s what he knew. He was reckless and had no hope.
Jesus is the answer we all need. Jesus is our hope. James MacDonald’s message (Harvest Bible Chapel, Chicago) this past weekend was on the message of hope. Faith. Hope. Love. The trifecta of our Christian life. Faith in God. Love for one another. Hope for the future. Pastor James said “Hope is the confident expectation of better days ahead.” We are chosen by God to give a message to a dying world. This message of hope changes things. How is it we keep silent unless we just don’t understand its power?
Daniel’s life was redeemed; he has given the glory to God for the work that has come from his struggle. He now is working with at-risk youths. He works with the same juvenile detention center where he also spent time. How powerful is a testimony of God’s grace! Maybe our stories aren’t like Daniel’s; but Jesus also gave us a story of grace to tell. (I have written my story out in book form and published it this past week! Please check the “My Books” tab on this website for the links to purchase or go HERE for Kindle or HERE or your favorite download site for another version. Thank you!)
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:11–13, esv).