hope

How to Reverse the Irreversible

Have you heard the following anonymous quote about hope?  

“Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope.” 

I don’t know about you, but the truth of that statement, like a dog whistle, captures an aching frequency of my heart.  It seems to ring true.

What direction is the needle on your heart’s “hope-ometer” pointing?  

              Towards “full and hopeful” or towards “empty and despairing”?

I hate to be a downer, but death is the ultimate hope-popper.

Day after day, month after month and year after year, it appears that this dark enemy holds onto the title: The undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

              Why?

Philosophers and theologians call death the ultimate finality of irreversibility.

Or, to say it another way, death is that which causes good things to become irrecoverable and gone.

              Forever.

Remember the first time you fell in love?  

              You held hands.  

                       You kissed.  

                                You experienced being loved and loving another.

But then things changed. 

You weren’t good enough for him.  

              Or you lost interest in loving her because of your own broken, selfish goals.

Now that warm memory is long gone and has been thrown into the wastebasket of your life labeled: “Irreversible moments in time past that I have no hope of ever recovering!” 

Like crumpled up papers, other major memories were tossed long ago into your personal irreversible wastebasket.

That childhood memory at the beach with your family.

             The day you saw your first horizon to horizon rainbow.

                       That shameful failure you just couldn’t cover up.

That decision that determined your destiny and sent you tumbling down the stairs of life.

             And oh….the divorce, the dead-end job and financial fiasco…let’s not forget those wads of waste.  

As the philosopher Luc Ferry famously put it, these irreversible un-recoverables in life make us feel, in the pit of our soul, that some things in life will forever be “nevermore.”

But the Christian story challenges this depressing story of “nevermore.”

After reading the living stories of Jesus in Scripture, the oven of your cold heart begins to heat up and radiate with hope.

It is as if Jesus looks your direction with a sparkling squint in his eye and winks your way.

He holds up three fingers and says with certainty, “For all of your specific ‘nevermores’--Just give me three days.” (John 2:19)

You’ve heard the stories of his life and death.  Grandma and Grandpa used to speak of Jesus as if he were really real.

But many of those memories lie crumpled in your wastebasket of irreversibles.

Could it be that these historical accounts actually happened in space and time?

You read of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

              Resurrection.

                        Impossible!

And yet, five hundred people claimed it happened. (1 Corinthians 15:6—check it out!)

Women witnessed to the wonder.  In fact, the first woman that witnessed Jesus alive has been nicknamed “the apostle to the apostles!” because she sent word to the fellas who followed Jesus. What dignity.

With the truth of these stories, hope begins to warm and boil and bubble in your heart as you consider the ramifications of THE resurrection.

If the resurrection of Jesus is true, then death is dethroned and the heavyweight champion of hell is given the knock-out punch by the heavyweight champion of heaven.

                The reversal of the irreversible is now and forevermore possible.

And, if even for one second, you can hope again, all of those nevermores can become once-agains.

It’s like finding the first flower bursting with color on a mountainside after a cold snow.

If that flower can outfight freezing snow, then thousands of flowers can follow and carpet the countryside with beauty. 

Joy—endless, irrepressible joy- can occur since the fear of the irreversible is tossed into the wastebasket of irreversible finality.

And with this fact your crumpled, hopeless heart can now bloom like a flower in Spring.

The winds of possibility can unfurl your flagging heart and fill it with creative potentiality. 

The Christian, (the one united to the living Christ by faith) tackled by death, will recover the unrecoverable. 

              Because He resurrected, all those that are in Him by faith will live again.

All of our memories will remain.

              All that has collapsed will be restored.

                        All of the nevermores under the ledger-line of death will be transferred to remain under the ledger-line of hope. (Col. 1:13)

Do you believe it? (John 3:36)

He is risen.  Forevermore!

Pastor Howard
Senior Pastor
Metro North Church

Find Out Two Ways to Become "Un-Humpty-Dumptied" by the Cross

Do you think we each have a nursery rhyme character who could be our long, lost, identical twin? 

Personally, I find Humpty Dumpty highly relatable and relevant to my story.

I haven’t asked my mom yet, but I wonder if Humpty and I were accidentally separated at birth.

Why?

On the outside Humpty looks like a pretty dapper egg.

I grew up in suburbia, finished high school, college and grad school.  I got married, had a bunch of kids, work a job and even involve myself with a pretty cool church.

But that white, polished exterior is as thin and brittle as glass.

My heart, like yours, is so disordered and fragile.

And Humpty spends so much energy climbing up on walls.

He thinks they enable him to enjoy the high life.

But up there on those self-made walls of success, sex or salary, life can get a little shaky.

Up on a wall, leaning forward or backward just a bit too much comes with a cost.

In fact, when the wind of suffering and sin blows, Humpty falls off the wall only to blast apart in shards of gooey shell.

You might say he even feels dry and forsaken after the gravity of his situation presents itself.

Ever been there?  I’ve fallen off more walls this week than I can remember.

As we march toward Good Friday, many of us are starting to think about Christ and his God-forsaken cross.

As we ache and groan at the base of the walls we’ve fallen from, let’s take a fresh look at the cross.

When we look at the cross and listen to the words of Jesus, something surprising happens.

  • We actually begin to become un-humpty-dumptied in two transformative ways.

The first way we become un-humpty-dumptied happens as we listen and believe Jesus say the following words:  “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28).

Did you hear that?  Jesus actually admitted, as he hung up there on that cross in the place of sinners, that he was dying of thirst.

I’ve heard Jesus say a bunch of “I Am” sayings like, “I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world”…etc.

Since he was fully God, those statements sound reasonable.

But to hear his say “I AM THIRSTY” magnetizes my mind and heart to trust Him in his humanity too.

As a flesh and blood guy, he actually slipped on human skin with thirst receptors and all.  His physical thirst was real and desperate as he bled to death.

Our hearts are thirsty too.

We erect so many strategic, self-salvation walls to perch on for a sense of purpose.

But endless effort and earning only make our dry, spongy hearts brittle and breakable.

I “say” Jesus saved me from my sin, and yet I “live” looking up to pseudo-saviors like possessions, people and power.

I sip on entertainment, gulp up activity after activity, and finally slurp with a straw the latest information about everything.

And yet I’m still thirsty.

As we hear Jesus scream “I AM THIRSTY” we realize that he thirsted under the righteous wrath of God in our place.

When we believe this personally, we become un-humpty-dumptied.

It’s like the cold snow, packed and pressing on the roof of our lives, becomes sun-warmed and slowly slides off.

We begin to be put back together again.

We begin to sip and swallow His love for us.  

His thirst wasn’t quenched so that my thirst would be quenched forever.

And this transaction between him and the Father, where he was penalized for my treason, becomes the very means of my transformation.

I am becoming un-humpty-dumptied!

The second way to become un-humpty-dumptied happens as we hear Jesus say “My God, my God, Why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46)

Jesus coughed these sad words through thirsty lips, three hours after he was hoisted up on the cross.  

Three hours of depressing God-forsakeness.

The savior that arrived in supernatural starlight, (see Matthew 2) hung high on a cross in the dark.

I am the one that climbs atop my achievements as I sit in the dark with a smug look of pride.

But it’s really dark up here.

I feel lonely and separated from others.

Up on my self-made wall, I feel superior to others.

But then I find someone with a wall that is just a little higher-- and begin to feel inferior.

I’m either prideful or depressed.

Either way, I feel distanced from friends and family.

Jesus hung suspended between heaven and earth, forsaken by the Father, so that I could have fellowship with God and others forever.

As I look at his forsakenness, I become un-humpty-dumptied.

I will never be fully forsaken because he was forsaken for me.

I am wanted, loved and knitted to the Father, through the Son, by the Spirit.

My cracked self is being fixed up.

I kneel at the foot of the cross gazing at my thirsting, forsaken King, and my heart suddenly flutters with hope.

Because he fell apart…

I am whole.

I’m so looking forward to Good Friday!

Pastor Howard
Senior Pastor
Metro North Church