Awaiting hope

Somewhere between a speed too slow to get killed and too fast to get away, a grasshopper found himself clinging to my windshield wiper. He wrapped his thin wire legs around black metal and held on with that baleful, narrow-headed look grasshoppers have. I kept waiting for him to let go, to tumble and topple into my truck’s wake until the turbulence subsided, until he knew ground from sky again and found himself a hundred yards or a half mile from home, feeling reborn or let down or just plain grasshopper lucky.

But he held on, and as I went faster he worked his striated legs and turned until he faced the wind, his antennae bent backward in tight arcs, his tapered body quivering. Then he turned again, and crawled behind the wiper, making it his shelter. He hid behind that long piece of metal and rubber, and I hid behind my windshield, and together we flew down the highway.

I watched that grasshopper hunkered down against the violent wind and it occurred to me that I had intended to write about hope and love and I really just can’t bring myself to say anything about them that doesn’t sound false, that doesn’t seem more ridiculous with each pretty word. First there was love and then there was sacrifice and then there was the church to explain these things and even give us a bible to help with the explaining, which is where we read of faith, hope, and love. We read that the greatest of these is love just as the beginning of these is love, and I realize that I don’t really know much at all about what love means or how to live it or how even not to kill it.

And if you can’t keep from destroying the love that finds its way to you, then you don’t have much hope at all, do you? Not here or in any life to follow. But I’m stubborn and so I wrote and wrote and wrote about hope, stacked word upon word, because this is what you are supposed to do when you write about the church you have found and the faith that has found you, you are supposed to write next about hope and then about love and at the end of it you are supposed to say something that means Something, if only to whisper it back to yourself, because while most people first make sense and then they say it with words, sometimes the best you can do is say words until you come to your senses.

You can’t admit hopelessness. This is why you lie, when someone asks how you are doing, because this is your sin, to have no hope, and if you confess it they will try to fix you, they will try to get you to manufacture it before their eyes, because no one knows how to grieve with anyone any more, raised as we are in a fix-things-up culture. This is why you lie and say that things are okay, or hard but passable, or peachy damned keen. You are not supposed to look at the arc of your life, and come to the conviction that it will only get worse from here, that at best you are fighting a holding action, that you are hunkered down like that grasshopper for only as long as your quaking arms will hold you, that the wind will not stop, that the spirit of the air claws and grabs until it takes what it wants.

Some days I haven’t a scrap of hope, but I have the hope of hope, or perhaps something like faith that hope will come, if only because it has to. Maybe it’s when your tired grip fails that hope rushes in, or salvation, or just a cool spot of water on your straining face. Maybe our story here really is like a fairy tale, and this is why we write so many stories about last-minute rescues, because something beneath our skin tells us this is our story, that it has to be our story, that everything can be redeemed, which means anything can be redeemed, which means the likes of you or me can be redeemed.

And maybe this is all hope ever can be, a faint whisper of itself. What need we of hope, until all hope is lost? You look back at the long, crooked, down-tumbling path of your life, and you peer forward into darkness, and everything tells you to despair. This is when hope has to rush in, if hope means anything at all. So I haven’t hope, but I have hope that hope will come rushing in, or soughing slow like a breeze in summer, or welling up like warmth in your belly when you are in love. I hope to one day have hope, and if that isn’t the best kind of hope, maybe it’s a kind of hope all the same.

Comments

  1. Marc V

    The older I get the more I realize how little I know. The more I love my family the more I realize just how far away I am from unconditional love, that I’m a small petty selfish man who can’t let go. Yet the Lord gives us a fresh start each day, with the hope that maybe we’ll get it a little more “righter” than the previous blunders.

    Morning by morning new mercies I see.
    All I have need Thy Hand hath provided,
    Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.

    Last Sunday was my last class for my 3rd grade SS, and this Sunday I’ll get the ones coming up. I reminded them of the cross and the two criminals crucified on either side of Jesus. I asked them which side are they on, and we all answer “The one who acknowledges his crimes and asks the Lord to remember him”, but I wonder how much we question God and why he doesn’t do our bidding (like the other criminal).

  2. Brent Davis

    Hebrews and 1 John are both great epistles of love and hope. It’s interesting that in Hebrews 2:1 the writer adjures us to “pay more careful attention” to Jesus’ message, the New Testament, lest we “drift away” from it and Heb. 4:11 to “make every effort to enter that rest so that no one may fall by following the Israelite’s example of disobedience” and at the same time telling us that, in Heb 3:6, “we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope!” He’s saying “Don’t be overconfident” at the same time that he is saying “Be supremely confident!”
    This can only be done by living like Jesus, who it says that in the days of his flesh he, first of all, did not exalt himself to be made high priest but was appointed to that office(Heb 5::5-6(Phil 2:5-11), he was humble, and second of all, he offered up prayers to God with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard (not because he was God, the son, co-creator of the Universe, the one who holds all things together by his word of power, blameless and innocent, but) for his reverent submission.
    So we can have confidence because we have a high priest who can relate to us and feels for us and with that confidence we can enter the most holy place and draw near to the throne of God, the throne of grace, where Jesus is seated right now, and receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. (Heb 4:14-16) This confidence, cemented in the God’s double eternally unchanging and irrevocable promise serves for a steadfast anchor for our soul, a hope that enters into the Holy of Holies as well. (Hebrews 6:13-20)
    Similarly, I John 1 encourages us that “if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of his son Jesus Christ continually purifies us from all sin.” But if we claim we have no sin, we lie and do not live according to the truth. Be confident but not over-confident. Our confidence in Christ is in our humility. And by maintaining this humility we will sin less; we will not walk in darkness.
    The grasshopper flew down the road but he didn’t hot-dog and show how he could ride the wind waves on his windshield washer surfboard with no legs hanging on. And we don’t have to be quite as blind as the grasshopper about our destination. We have a destination that is the fulfillment of the dreams of all the men of faith, hope and love of all time. The eternal Mt Zion, the innumerable angels in festal gathering!! (Heb 12)
    Do get there we must endure discipline though. Some days that discipline seems tough. But those tough times are our hope of sonship, our guarantee of it, the grounds of our boasting. I know I have tough times. I’m a son of the king and I’m on MY way to heaven!

  3. Jeff Brokaw

    Thanks Tony. Hope has been a struggle in my own life over these last few years.

    Turns out, I used to think I had more answers than I actually did, which causes me to question how many answers I really do have now.

    I just don’t know any more. It felt good to know something before, even if I was kidding myself … but today, that feeling is fleeting at best. Especially in the parenting area. I’m pretty sure these words aren’t painting a true picture, but I can’t go into detail here.

    Anyway, I’m extra glad that I stopped by your blog today, and read what you wrote. The image of the grasshopper hanging on in the wind is a good one, and might help me out a time or two in the future.

  4. danielle

    I really should read you more often.

    ::smile::

    You’ve just nut-shelled SO much of what I feel and yet can’t express. Know and yet can’t communicate.

    I may have to print this one out.

    Thanks, Tony.

    …danielle

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