It was a beautifully bright white snow covered morning, as John and I sat in the house watching the kids enjoy some fresh air. They started in right away, building the first snowman at what I would consider a record pace. Soon another was constructed, then another…until five uniquely created snowmen stood in a row. We both sat drinking our coffee and smiling at the thought of each one of us represented in their creative play. But what happened next came as a surprise. Our oldest daughter came running into view and placed a baby snowman on the shoulder of the largest one. John and I giggled wondering what their little minds were thinking, as we wondered if perhaps it was our cat, Sizzles. It was within an hour that their snow covered bodies came tromping through the back door and the real story behind all the snowmen began to unfold.
The children began to explain to us that those six snowmen were actually not representative of each family member, but rather of Jesus and people who were following him. They went on to explain that Jesus was leading them, to a safe place and that the people were not scared, but happy knowing that He would take care of them. Upon closer examination, we noticed that in the very center of every snowman was a carving of a heart. This was intentionally placed there knowing that each snowman felt the great love of their leader, Jesus. The snowmen were all happy, joyful and full of life. When I asked them where Jesus was leading them, my youngest just shrugged his shoulders and said, “They don’t need to know because they trust their leader.”
Wow! Kids often have a beautiful way of believing in that which is good and seeing life through the lenses of hope! I pondered on it all for several days. One day, I was reading the Bible and stumbled (more like ran smack into) a verse that seemed to fit perfectly with view that I still stood outside my back window.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. -Deuteronomy 31:8
It was in that moment of reading those words that the images of Jesus and His snow followers that I had kept in my mind became a truth that sunk deep into my heart. Just like those snowmen, I began to realize the reality of what it means to follow Jesus. Following Jesus doesn’t always mean the road will be easy. Following Jesus doesn’t always mean the path will always be straight and smooth. Following Jesus doesn’t always mean the destination will be clear. But, in following Jesus, the journey no matter how hard or how tough was meant to be one full of peace, joy and great hope!
So what really is hope? Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation for believing something good will happen. See, for us as humans it is easy to place our hope into a lot of good things. But as I look around our world today a lot of things we once hoped in, simple are not there anymore. Put your hope in the stock market, it will fall. Put your hope in the government, it will disappoint. Put your hope in the entertainment industry, it will shut down. Put your hope in toilet paper, it will run out. This reality posed a very honest and challenging question I had to ask myself. What is it in these days that am I believing in? Where am I placing my hope? Hope in anything other than Hope Himself (Jesus), will sooner or later disappoint. 1 Peter 1:3 says, Jesus is our living hope! This means in Him hope is alive, not lifeless or dead, but alive, active and moving. These snowmen had hope...not in themselves, or even in the journey that lied ahead, but solely in their leader that stood before them.
I happened upon (another ran right smack into) a powerful quote by Bob Goff that same day that hit directly to the heart of where we put our hope. “The way we deal with uncertainty says a lot about whether Jesus is ahead of us leading, or just behind us carrying our stuff.” I don’t know about you, but I know Jesus to make a far better and more effective leader when I place Him first, rather than placing Him behind anything or anyone else. No, He doesn’t always tell us the way. No, He doesn’t always take the nice, easy, paved roads. No,He doesn’t always explain the journey or even show us the road map. But here is what He does do…He leads. He never abandons His posts. He keeps watch. He endures the hardships with us. He guides. He walks ahead. He prepare the way. He guards. He protects. He provides. He cares. He never, ever, ever leaves. He loves. And it is because He is all of these things, that we can have HOPE!
As the days got warmer and the snow began to melt, my heart grew sad to see those snowmen begin to fade, but the lesson I learned from them will be one that remains. May we all be challenged…where we once were tempted to see nothing but chaos, confusion, uncertainty, and hardship, may we begin to see opportunity. An opportunity for ourselves, our families, our community, country and world to realign our hearts and return our hope back to Jesus. May we all humble ourselves and be brave enough to step out from behind all the other crowds we have been following and to boldly step behind the king of all king, Jesus Himself. For our reward in doing so is the security of knowing...He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life. He is our very LIVING HOPE!