There was once a young boy that was playing little league baseball. Sitting in the dugout, he was watching the game with rapt attention, focusing on all the things that were taking place on the field, because he knew that every moment on the field would have a great impact on the game’s final outcome, and like a child, he wanted to win—badly.
A man that was walking by stopped at the dugout and asked the young boy, “what’s the score, son?” to which the little boy answered “eighteen to nothing. We’re down.”
The older man let out a low, slow whistle through his teeth and responded, “Whew, I bet you’re discouraged!”
“Why should I be discouraged,” the little boy asked. “We just got in to bat!”
What would it be like if we all had hope like that little boy? To see through the seemingly dark moments in life, and to still have hope. To realize that we have the bat, and good things will happen when we have the bat.
In the first book of the classic children’s novel series, “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C.S. Lewis, the Pevensie children had found their way into the magical land of Narnia through a wardrobe in an old professor’s house during World War II. While eating supper with some kind beavers, they found that the younger brother, Edmund, had left their company, and gone to betray them to the tyrant who ruled the land, the White Witch.
The remaining Pevensies and the beavers could have easily lost hope at that point. You see, the White Witch wanted the four children dead because they were there was a prophecy that was many years old, saying that two human boys and two human girls were the only ones who could kill the White Witch. All that would have to be done to prevent the prophecy from coming true would be for her to kill Edmund, and she would rule the land forever.
Of course, that didn’t happen. The beavers and the remaining Pevensie children kept hope, and raced to the Stone Table, where they would meet the one true king of Narnia, the Great Lion, Aslan, who of course rescued Edmund, but would not have if the kids had lost hope.
It’s hard to keep hoping when all hope is lost. Imagine for a moment how the disciples must have felt, knowing that Jesus was hanging on the cross. Imagine further how hopeless they felt the day after. They had travelled with this man for three years, placed their hope and trust in him, only for him to be brutally executed. Not one of them thought that he would be coming back; they all thought that their time with him was up. He was dead, was not going to come back, and now they would all be fugitives for having followed him.
These men had given up their lives, families, and incomes to follow him, and now he was gone. But of course, that is not the end of this story either. The next day, Jesus was resurrected from the dead, proclaiming victory over sin and death…praise God for that!
When Jesus appeared to the disciples after his resurrection, in John 20:22, the Bible says that he “breathed on them,” and told them, “receive the Holy Spirit.” My belief is that in doing that, he was opening their eyes, and showing them what God did when he first created man.
Just outside the Garden of Eden, God formed Adam from the dust of the earth, and the Bible says that he breathed the breath of life into him. It is my belief that God did not create mankind to be separated from Himself, but that he created Man to constantly breathe in His presence, dependent on that presence for life. When Jesus breathed on the disciples, he was giving them life that was no less vital than the breath that fills our lungs.
In John 15:5-8, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.”
Just like a vine branch cannot live without being connected to the vine, we as Christians cannot continue in this life unless we are connected to Jesus. Just like a vine branch that is separated from the vine withers and dies, our spiritual lives will wither and die if we do not keep it connected to the one who gives it life, Jesus.
Just like when He breathed the breath of life into Adam’s nostrils, and when he breathed on the disciples on the first Easter, he has breathed on us, filling us with his Holy Spirit, which is that constant companion who keeps us connected with the vine, Jesus.
This is what hope in this life is: To have the filling of Christ, and to bring glory to Him. The truly great news is that we have hope for more than just this life. In 1 Corinthians 15:19, Paul told the Corinthian church, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” Why would he say this? Because we not only have the blessings that come with being in Christ in this life now, we also have hope for after this life.
It is my hope that you will join me in praying that God would breathe on us, filling us with his Spirit, and showing us the fulfillment of life by being connected to the vine of life, his son, Jesus Christ. When we have that relationship, we can have hope in all things, even when we are down 18-0. With Jesus, we always have the bat, and can always have hope.
Listen to a 5 minute mini message based on hope:
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