Titus 2:11-15, For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
I was once hopeful of becoming an astronaut. So much so that in the late sixties I had been given a real (to me) space helmet. I would lie under my bed and pretend that all the springs from the suspension on my bed were a space module control panel. I watched, with great anticipation, the first lunar landing hoping one day to stand in the footsteps of men like Armstrong, Aldrin, Conrad, Bean, Shepherd, Mitchell, Scott, Irwin, Young, Duke, Cernan and Schmidt. The courage, the hard work, and the unknown were all calling to a young heart who thought it could be me. I never saw that dream come true. Later in life it was replaced with more pragmatic efforts for myself and who I was. I still remember the thought process which guided me for quite a while. Hope can be very powerful in a young life.
As people we all have a “blessed” hope. For many it is the prospect of peaceful and quiet retirement from life. For some it is the prospect of a perfect “NOW” – the perfect location, the perfect vocation, and the right person to share it with… the right everything. Most of us spend a considerable amount of time trying to bring the “blessed” hope into the present. Proverbs 13:12 tells us, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” We are easily wearied by the pursuit of hope and at times we actually try to bring that life giving tree closer under our own power.
Waiting is hard. There’s usually a gap between the promise of a future blessing, and the blessing itself – sometimes a very long one. The wait can be agonizing. Some may live their whole life and never actually see the promise. (Hebrews 11:37-40) Believe it or not, there is a design in the gap. Hope of future blessing should shape the way we live in the present. An aimless life looks forward to nothing. Desperate, unfocused, unstable lives are all we have when there is no hope.
When our eye is on the prize we live accordingly. We discipline ourselves to move ahead, we shape ourselves to fit the calling, and God shapes us to fit our future. In the end waiting enables us to “fit” our future.
Paul writes of the ultimate hope – the appearing of Jesus. (v. 13) we have an incredible sense of direction when we are focused on the cross. This focus is as much about shaping our present as it is about shaping our future. It causes us to reject Godlessness and seek out righteousness. This is the perspective designed to define who and what we are.
We must guard our perspective. (Hebrews 3:12) It can be easily polluted by the refuse of sinful aimlessness toward which we easily gravitate. A clear spiritual compass will affect what you do today. A spiritually unguided person will always fail in making decisions for God. If we will ever reach the goal of our faith, we will need to remain focused on the cross. This keeps our present on track and enables us to receive the future.