Instead you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.

I Peter 3:15

What I am about to say might be a bit too honest for some. That is my only warning. I haven’t always been excited to share the hope I have in Christ. To be honest, I didn’t want you to ask me. You see, my hope in Christ was tethered with so many by-laws, rules, regulations, must-do’s and have not’s that I had no idea why you would want it. I didn’t really want it, but it was like an inherited thing – something passed down from generation to generation.

That doesn’t actually sound like hope, does it? I wanted you to spend eternity in heaven, but I really wanted you to ask someone else about it. Kind of like when you go shopping for something and you can tell the clerk really wants to send you down the street to buy the item because it costs less and is better quality. Well, that is how I felt. I knew I should be excited about being a Christian, but realistically, it was a lot of hard work.

But many things have changed in my life in the last number of years. As hard as I worked before to do all the right things, and go all the right places (or rather, avoid the wrong places), and dress in the right way and say the right words while not saying the wrong words, I work just as hard now to keep my eyes focused on Jesus and make him the center of my life. I am much more likely to share the hope I have in Christ. Let me explain with an illustration from the natural world.

I love to share my new found knowledge of the beaches I visit. Not all beaches provide the same sort of amenities. Some provide cool, white sand for a wonderful day of lounging and reading and building sand castles. But this beach has very little in the way of treasures such as shells, fossils, coral, etc.

Some beaches are gold mines for finding shells of all sizes and shapes. For some reason, the tides drop the shells in piles along the shoreline, making shelling a veritable joyride!

But my favorite beaches are the ones where I find fossils, specifically shark’s teeth. Only a few will give up these treasures. When I first learned about this phenomenon, I had no idea it would captivate me so. Eventually I bought a book about fossils in Venice and researched what I was finding and why. I have spent dozens of hours looking for shark’s teeth and along the way, shared my love with others.

One day’s finds at Manasota Key Beach

It never fails, I will be in the water scooping and sifting and someone comes along asking what I am looking for. I explain about how the tides bring shark’s teeth to these beaches and show them a few examples. Most of the time that is all it takes and I have a new friend to share my love of fossiling.

One such day I was on Casperson Beach with my sister doing some digging. I noticed a man and his daughter down the beach a little and wondered what brought them out and where they were from and if they had found anything. It didn’t look like they had and they didn’t have any tools of the trade.

Soon my questions were answered as they approached me and asked if I was finding anything. I said I was and offered to show them how to find the fossils. Soon we were digging together and in a short time they had found a dozen or more teeth. He explained they were in Florida for a soccer tournament for his daughter. They lived in Pennsylvania and he taught Bible for junior high students at a Christian school. We had that in common. We chatted while we sifted and as they finished and were preparing to leave, he shared this with me. He had been down the beach and they weren’t finding anything. He prayed and asked that the Lord help them find just one tooth. After approaching me, they walked away with joyful hearts and a handful of teeth. His faith was strengthened as he experienced God answering his prayer above and beyond what he could imagine. And I was able to share the hope that I have within.

Looking for fossils at Manasota Key Beach

I find that sharing my joy of fossiling with others is quite similar to sharing the hope I have in Christ. You see, the fossils I find are not based on my goodness or my ability. They are simply a gift. And they are freely given to anyone willing to look. There is no limit to how many I find and no one can claim they earned or deserved them. The tools I use are varied. Some are specifically for digging in the sand, others are treasures I found at Goodwill – someone’s kitchen castoffs. Others were made for me from items commonly found in the hardware store. But my finds are not based on what kind of tool I bring or how hard I try. I find because I show up and I’m willing. And because the fossils are free and available for anyone wanting to look, I love to share!

The hope I have in Christ isn’t based on my goodness or anything I have done. But it also isn’t affected by those times when I don’t get it right. My HOPE is because Jesus did something for me that I couldn’t possibly have done. He opened the way for me to live with joy and purpose, blameless before him and in full confidence that I am a child of God. Everything God did for me, he wants to do for you. It is free and completely untethered to anything you might be able to accomplish on your own. It truly is HOPE!

So, I want to ask you again – do you have hope that you can explain to someone? Does your hope even show? I know that for a long time I kept my hope hidden because it didn’t feel like hope. Is your hope in Christ for a time in the future, like death insurance? Or are you experiencing all the goodness of walking with Him every day?

Stay tuned this week as we explore what it means to have hope in Christ!

Until next time…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.

May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

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