We were traveling east to our home in the Okanagan when we passed the sign. I’m attracted to the word “hope” and so it grabbed my attention. A few minutes later and a little further up the highway, we passed another marker: HOPE, Next exit. I tried to get a glimpse of Hope from the truck as we passed but there was no hope! Obviously, we needed to leave the highway, take the off-ramp and follow the road that led into the town. It would mean a change of direction, so it didn’t happen!
As we continued on our way I smiled to myself realizing that finding hope for our hearts is a lot like a road trip. Our lives, like that highway, often head in a direction that makes it impossible to see “hope”. We live in a “me-first” world that can leave us with misunderstandings and feelings of inadequacy. Mounting bills, uncertain employment, rising interest rates, strained relationships, poor health, social pressures all leave their mark and take their toll on our hearts.
So, you might wonder, where can a traveller find hope for his or her heart? Certainly the breaking stories of newscasts and headlines of newspapers don’t offer much help. And, if hope cannot be seen from the highway we’re on, then where is the exit? How do we get to the “off-ramp”?
One man had the answer. He was born in an obscure village, born in a time not so unlike ours. Hope could not be found in the economy or the government of the day. Jesus often spoke of the way to hope. “Follow Me,”(Matt. 4:19) He would say to those around him. “I am the way, the truth and the life”(John 14:6) were the directions he would give and then, with compassion, kindness and humility, he helped them in ways that changed their lives and offered them strength for the day and hope for their tomorrows. They discovered it was possible to face difficulties in their lives and still have peace in their hearts! There was a choice that was required of each person, and it meant a change in direction, focus and purpose. If the invitation was accepted the experience of new life was theirs for the taking and enjoying.
The good news is that the same offer is available for us today, right in the midst of our crazy, confusing lives. The world’s map suggests we travel the highway of our best-laid plans. Unfortunately, focusing on success, status or wealth often leads to hopelessness and despair or at the very least, emptiness.
Jesus also holds a map for our lives and longs for each of us to ask him for directions. He wants to show us the nearest “exit” to a place of hope; the route that will give us a heart of peace everyday. Even now he extends his hand and waits. Detour, anyone?