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Reasons to Hope

Hope Is Where the Heart Is: Paying Attention to What Matters

Photo: Miha Arh

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I’ve always loved and equally feared this part of the Sermon on the Mount — my heart a divining rod, a lie detector test, showing the true nature of who I am in what I care about most, in where I pay my attention.

I imagine Jesus standing on the slope overlooking the Sea of Galilee, his disciples at his feet wondering if their hearts are the right place at the right time or if they’ve really missed the boat, leaving their fathers’ business and the responsibilities they’ve lived their whole lives to bear. Were they worrying about their families, their fishing nets, their mortgages, their worn out shoes and the small collection of things they once called their own? Or were they enraptured in the moment, fully encompassed by the presence of God among them, confident in their choice to follow this man directly to this place, for such a time as this. 

How would I feel if I were in their worn out shoes? 

Jesus had told them, “Take nothing for the journey—no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt. Whatever house you enter, stay there until you leave that town.” Show up and pay not in money, but in presence. Pay the most valuable thing you own — your attention —  to what matters; learn to treasure what moth and rust can not destroy, learn to lead from your heart and “I will make you fishers of men…”

If I were in their worn out shoes, I might have said, “how on earth are we supposed to do that?” The answer is both rooted in faith and out of this world — with a little help from the Son of God himself. 

When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick… So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

Luke 9:1, 6

God gave them the power and they had the choice to respond, to show up and pay attention. They did the simplest, smartest thing they could do. They dropped everything they couldn’t truly hold onto anyway, for one ginormous reason to hope. They went on to teach this new way of seeing, of being, of paying attention to what moth and rust cannot destroy. Paul called out, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” 

The attention goes to Jesus, the author of the Book of Hope, the one who perfects the working out of our faith. We are not expected to perfect ourselves. We are invited to step into the legacy of sons and daughters of Christ. This is a gift that evokes a lifetime of gratitude, the ultimate reason to hope. 

For the 11th week of writing our Book of Hope, let’s live with the idea that we don’t have to be perfect, we don’t have to find a million different things to be grateful for or even one justifiable reason to hope. We simply show up, pay attention, and drop whatever it is that’s keeping us from being who we truly are — free, whole, perfect, holy, human, God’s own unique creation.

Writing the Book of Hope 

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Highlights from the Book of Hope: