We use the hope as a rather nebulous word, I fear. The way we use the word usually means I hope, but I don’t have faith it will happen. Our hope is really hopelessness.
Real hope, though, is based on EVIDENCE. It’s just evidence that isn’t visible yet.1
I was struck by this fact when I read an email from a ministry leader regarding my article, “Weight Loss, Sin and the Metal Lawn Chair.” The essence of what he wrote was that he hoped he could one day truly understand” the freedom I write about. His addiction is pornography. Mine is different and yet, at their core they are the same.
The word hoped worries me in this context. It’s akin to I hope I can win the lottery. Very few actually do. We hope we have a stroke of luck and the next time it’s us.
Overcoming any addiction, alcohol, drugs, sugar or pornography, is definitely not about luck or hope. It’s about facing the fact I have a problem and I need to start doing what God has been showing me all along. When I do, all His power, the same power that raised Christ from the dead2, comes to my aid.
I feel for my new friend. I get him. He said, “I am a sinner. I struggle. I am a Christian. My sin struggle, in the midst of trying to be a man after God’s own heart, is pornography.
“Your article, touched the depths of my soul … We all know that we need to obey, but you give hope to those of us who just can’t seem to get there. Your words are encouragement that there is hope in the freedom that comes through obedience.”
Hope in freedom that comes through obedience means one first must obey or there is no hope. It’s as simple as that. Our actions are the key, like I shared in “The Place That Grace Built.” We have to use our key to get out of the prison we have put ourselves in.
It’s sort of like this. I live smack dab in the middle of Missouri between Kansas City and St. Louis. If I say my destiny is St. Louis and I go out to I-70 and turn west and go over the Missouri River bridge, past Boonville, Marshall, Blue Springs and into the city limits of Kansas City and there’s no arch, it’s not like an aha moment. I knew I was headed the wrong way all the time, but I kept going. My actions did not match my words.
I have a choice to make. If I want to go to St. Louis I can go up to Iowa over to Chicago and across to Indiana and meander in that direction. Eventually I hope I will get there, but without a GPS and a firm plan, I probably won’t.
If I REALLY want to go to St. Louis, I have to turn around and go back down I-70, past my hometown and on to St. Louis.
Yes, I might take a few detours, but I have my destination firmly in mind and I am headed in the right direction. My GPS is turned on and locked in. It’s not hope that will get me there. It is a firm action plan.
If Kansas City represents any addictive lifestyle and St. Louis represents freedom and health, we can understand how the analogy works in our lives.
We first have to have the desire to head towards health, knowing it won’t be like an instant transporter beam with Scotty at the switch. When we mess up and go the wrong way, we have to recognize it.
We have to surrender the habit that got us headed in the wrong direction. We lay it on the altar and leave it there never to pick it up again. We recognize the comfort we thought it brought is false. It is really bondage. We reject that enslavement.
And then we repent. We turn around and head the other direction. God sees we are serious this time and that we are not holding on to the thing we crave. We have no thoughts in the back of our minds that we can always go back to it. At that moment, our behavior matches our words. That’s when the wind of God’s grace blows us forward.
He waits until He sees we are walking out our commitment and we mean business. There’s real hope in this place. It’s assurance. It is solid. It’s evidential. It’s so real inside that we KNOW it will happen. We have faith in something and Someone real.3
When I started my weight loss journey with the dedication to a total lifestyle change, I experience the power of grace like I’ve never felt it before. And then I realized beyond a shadow of a doubt, God knows the deep intents of my heart. My heart is turned towards Him and away from my what I thought I couldn’t live without. Never before have I turned away. I always knew I’d go back to it some time.
When I was a child I thought and reasoned as a child, but when I became an adult, I put away childish things.4
It’s like that. I had a childish understanding of salvation. I didn’t want to burn in hell. Now I have an adult understanding of the magnitude of salvation and grace and hope and peace and life and freedom.
If you’ve once tasted freedom, you will NEVER want to go back. It’s an all or nothing proposition.
I’m not saying there haven’t been moments I’ve slipped up, but they were just accidental side trips, blow outs that can be repaired when I lean on Him.
It’s much deepen that wishful thinking, it is SOLID HOPE based on how we are applying God’s truth in our every day life.
This is the kind of hope that will bring freedom. It is hope born of obedience.
Whatever is holding you back from experiencing God in all His glory, lay it down.
Nothing tastes, looks or smells as good as freedom in Jesus feels. Nothing.
I hope you understand.
1 Hebrews 11:1
2 Romans 8:11
3 Hebrews 11:1
4 I Corinthians 13:12
Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God’s Favor isn’t just for people who need to lose weight. The lessons in the book apply to anyone who desires freedom from any life issue. Grab your copy today on Amazon in print, Kindle or Audible. And while you’re there pick up a copy of Sweet Grace Study Guide: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Overcome Sugar Addiction.