This morning I’ve been meditating on broken hopes … false idols, such as in Isaiah 30:12-15. These are the things I run to for help or fulfillment–the things I rely on. In the end, by God’s grace, they are shown to be false. They crack and crumble. Sometimes, when I’ve attached myself to them, like a vine to its trellis, the breaking process is excruciating. Sometimes, when I’m blind to my own dependence, the loss of support is terrifying. Other times, I’m already in the process of detaching from that particular false love/savior and its loss is less painful, less shocking. Although, as of late, I am finding that a particular loss is prying my vision open to how deeply enmeshed I’ve been.
This year I’ve been working through “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman. Today I read “May 11.” In it, she talks about how in the first major gust of affliction, our hopes are broken and our hearts devastated. For some reason, it made me think of Matthew 14:22-33. The disciples are out in a boat, buffeted around by winds. Even though they leave the shore sometime after dinner, they’re only a couple miles from shore by the “fourth watch” (3 a.m.-6 a.m.). They’re already on edge. Then Jesus shows up walking on the water and they are terrified and cry out in fear. Jesus immediately says to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Numerous books and articles have been written about how Jesus’ instruction not to fear is grounded in His presence and character. I do love that He says, “I am” (egō eimi). I just wonder if that left Exodus 3:14 ringing in their ears and that’s why they respond with “Truly you are the Son of God” (vs. 33).
Peter gets out of the boat and is overwhelmed by the wind and waves. Is that similar to the moment of affliction when our false hopes shatter and their true character is exposed? Is that the moment when I focus on circumstances and depend on something other than God’s character? Then I start sinking. Then I discover I should have anchored my hopes to something else–to an eternal trellis. Cowman concludes thus: “But once the initial shock is over and we are able to look up and say, ‘It is the Lord’ (John 21:7), faith begins to lift our shattered hopes once more and securely binds them to the feet of God.”
I’m so inexpressibly grateful for God’s grace in unmasking my idols and providing me with the opportunity to anchor true hopes to nothing less than Himself, the only true eternal trellis.