I recently viewed an older film in which a downtown urban scene was dotted with old Fords and covered sidewalks; red, white and blue “OPEN” window signs and lovely yellow lilies planted in communal pots. Men of wool jackets and earth-toned fedoras ambled by graceful women in brightly covered dresses with children in tow. The camera was following one of such women and her 3 little boys and as she carried herself down the storefronts men would tip or lift their hats and smile or greet her with “ma’am” to which she would tip her head and smile back. Some of these men were well aged, and others no more than twenty-one. Her young, red-headed boys looked around her at these men with curious eyes and admired them, and they admired their mother more. She had respect here; these strangers thought well of her. Her warm smile and lovely eyes glazed even the darkest hearts of these men, and their courteous and kind manners guided her on with each passing gentleman…
I found myself touring my own ship today. Slowly pacing along, hands clasped behind my back and eyes tilted high in admiration for such modern beauty and skill. I came along a bulk-head that turned a sharp corner to the outside decks, and I could see beams of sun coming in from down the walk. I turned and started a smile as a group of three women came bristling by. My good-morning hale was cut short by the loud hack of throat as one of these women—quite publically—spit her morning wad of chewing tobacco into the cup she was carrying. My smile remained in feeble attempt to maintain etiquette until her shorter friend let loose a whirl of vulgarities that nearly made me faint! I proceeded to walk by and escape such class when their third—and obviously pregnant—friend half-blocked my route and said (in no short supply of obnoxious gum-chomping jaws) a very pointed “Good morning!” to which I replied out of frustration and desperation, “Get rid of that gum in uniform Sailor, and get out of my sight.” I then made haste for that beam of Sun, and having reached it in no sooner a moment, let loose a sigh of both relief and sadness; a longing for a bygone era bleakly clouding my heart…
I have learned by now the truth of which the author of Hebrews so greatly teaches when he pens “We have this Hope as an Anchor for the Soul, firm and secure.” What happens when I put my hope in something of the world? When I wish or long for a time past; a change of culture or way? I end up like Paul, agonized with the burning desire to leave this place for Home, when he writes, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.” When I put my hope in something that is man-made, something tainted with sin, they only thing I can be sure of is that it will fail me. And that hurts! I have seen far too many men and women come to grief and ruin because the thing or things they have placed their hope in—from the stock market to their careers to their spouse—have inevitably failed them. And the Christians seem surprised! I can understand the World; but my Brothers and Sisters? We know that these things will fail us! Mathew 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in Heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” That last sentence is key: Whatever you invest into—that will determine your return. How many men have I seen approach retirement in this job and begin to lose control of their lives? How many have received tattoos of their jobs or placed all their money into something or invested emotionally into their spouse only to have that worldly thing just, slip away? Their lives fall immediately apart and everyone around them is sucked in. Why not invest in something that you know will last? That “Anchor of the Soul” that keeps our hearts and minds secure?
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the Everlasting God; the Creator of the Ends of the Earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom! He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who Hope in the LORD will renew their strength; They will soar on wings like eagles; they run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
My Hope is in the Everlasting, the Constant, the Secure. The World around me is going to the dogs, and all of us with it. The economy is failing, my job is failing, friends and family—we’re all failing. The battering of everyday media reminds me how depressed and absolutely depraved the World really is. Yet I say it again; my Hope is in the Everlasting, the Constant, the Secure. As great as she is, my own Country grants me Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. She comes close, but only my Great Hope can guarantee that; Contentment; Happiness. Only He can take all of me and keep me focused, strong and secure despite the crashing waves of darkness and uncertainty all around. What is it you place your hope in?