The God Out Ahead
Geoffrey F. Spencer
Excerpted from A Brightness of Hope: A Study of the Christian Doctrine of Hope, 1996
This is the day that the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it. -Psalm 118:24
If we must think of God in spatial terms, it might be better not to think of God “up there” but “out there ahead.” Hope enables us to affirm that we cannot picture the future only in terms of the situations, tensions, burdens, hostilities, and threats that characterize our present striving. Rather, we must take seriously into account the emergence of the new-new insights, new graces of life, new responses. This is, in fact, the principle of resurrection-the daily rising up of life from death-which challenges the old dogma that “there is nothing new under the sun” and affirms that, in Christ, “all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
My own experience tends to confirm the unpredictable yet promising newness of the future. In the first place, nothing in my life has turned out the way I once thought it would-or planned. I no longer live where I expected to live, do what I expected to do, and aim for what I once aimed. It would be impossible to project my life’s span by a mere extension of what I once was. Virtually everything transpired differently, except, I believe, my fundamental orientation of hope. There is no reason for me to believe that my personal future yet to be lived out will be any different. I must hold myself open to whatever surprising turns the future may hold, with the confidence that the God who has brought me to this point is also the God who calls me into that future.
In the second place, if at any point in my growing years I had been asked to project the future, my imagination would have proved far too modest. I was ordained as a young man in a small group renting an unpretentious public hall to serve a congregation that very few people had ever heard of. If I had been told then that within the span of a few years I would be an Australian living in the United States, visiting the British Isles to meet Africans inquiring about the future church, I would have thought that somebody’s imagination had run riot. Yet my story is only typical of countless others and of the church as a whole. It is quite probable that our imagination, as we endeavor to picture the oncoming future, is more likely to be too timid than too bold. Furthermore, there is no reason to believe that the future yet to unfold will be any different.
“Every breath is a resurrection” (Gregory Orr).
Breath of Life
Take a few moments right now to breathe. Simply observe each inhale and exhale. Pay attention to how it feels in your body. Notice the rise and fall of your chest. Notice how you breathe even when you aren’t thinking about it, how your body instinctively knows how to keep you alive without your thought or effort. In this moment, you are alive. Receive this awareness as an expression of divine grace. In joy or despair, loss or celebration, your body continues breathing. How is your breath a resurrection this day?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
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