Why the last chapter of Hoping for Something Better is my favorite

It’s something of a running joke between my friend and me, but after each week’s homework/chapter reading of Hoping For Something Better I pronounce that week’s chapter my favorite. The truth is, they are all my favorite because all are Bible based, gospel drenched, and Christ glorifying which I think I’ve already told you.

Except last week’s work–I really do think it was my favorite, but perhaps that’s because it was the last one so there are no others to supersede its favorite status, or perhaps because so much of its truth spoke (and speaks still) directly into Where I Am Now.
Consider Nancy Guthrie’s observations on contentment in her chapter entitled “What Are You Dreaming Of?:
The life of your dreams is not purchased by money, and it is not found in the constant pursuit of one more thing. That is a life of tyranny and dissatisfaction. The life of your dreams is found in learning to be content.
We think we’ll be content when we finally get what we want, but real contentment is found when we accept something less than what we want or something other than what we want. That is real freedom. And it doesn’t just happen, because this world is telling us, “You deserve it; you’ve earned it; it is waiting for you.” You have to pursue a life of contentment with an unrelenting passion.
Oh, to know the gain of godliness with contentment. How easily I fall into the trap of comparison and its ever present companion, discontent. How can I pursue contentment? I’m not sure exactly but I think it begins with gratitude and an acknowledgement of the goodness and mercy of my God.
Wait, there’s more. Nancy writes of a sacrifice of acceptance as a part of the life of our dreams:

We were hoping to turn heads with our beauty and brilliance, and instead the author to the Hebrews is telling us that real satisfaction is found in sharing the disgrace of Jesus on the cross…we’ve dreamed of acceptance, and he is calling us to a life of being rejected because of our identification with Christ. He is calling us to the life of an outsider when we so love the power and thrills that come with being on the inside track. While we thought that our dreams would come true by being applauded and lauded by the crowd, he calls us to share not the applause but the reproach of Jesus.

I want to be like Moses, choosing the reproach of Christ over the treasures of the world, to go outside the camp, outside the boundaries of acceptance and people pleasing in order to follow Christ in sacrificial obedience. I want it; I’m not sure how to live it.
One more extended quote (I promise not to type out the entire chapter though it’s tempting). Here Nancy is speaking of our dreams and how we know which are of God and which are of our own ambition. Here I did lots of underlining and starring in my book because this is a message so easily mixed up in the popular self fulfillment gospel masking itself as finding God’s will for your life. You’ve heard it, I know I have, that God desires to grant you every desire of your heart: dream it and He’ll do it. But not all my dreams have come true; have yours? What does that say about me? My dreams? God? Consider:
We’re right to question carefully the origin of our dreams. We are right to test them carefully. Because sometimes it is hard to tell where our own ambition ends and God’s dream begins. But here is how we know, I think: When they are our ambitions, we find ourselves trying to push open doors for ourselves. When the dream is from God, we plan and prepare but we don’t push. When our dream is motivated by our own ambition, we want to measure success by how much, how many, how often. But the work of the Spirit is not measurable in those terms. If the dream is from God, we’re content to wait on his timing, accept his way of doing it, and accept the results he brings about. We don’t make demands. We’re not pushing an agenda. We’re not seeking to be somebody. We just want to be usable to God. We want to be ordinary vessels of clay that he can use for whatever purpose he has in mind–impressive or ordinary, visible or behind the scenes, big or small. That is the fulfillment of our dreams–to be used by God to build his Kingdom. That is the ultimate thrill of life–a dream worthy of all our energies and emotion. Jesus replaces our small-minded, self-centered, earthbound dreams with dreams that are worth our pursuit.
When a dream is from God, our heads do not swell with pride in our accomplishment because we are fully aware of where our abilities and opportunities come from. We realize that God has been faithful to “equip [us] with everything good for doing his will.” He gives us the abilities, the opportunities, everything we need. He opens doors for us so that we can walk through them with the confidence that he is in it, he has done it, and he will do it.
…Is it a dream that will help you to draw near, or will it take you away from or distract you from Christ? If it is from God, I guarantee you it will move you closer to Christ and make you more dependent on Christ’s power, because that is what he wants.

Last night I heard my friend describe her dream. She and her family are stateside for a couple of months before they go halfway around the world to live, work, and share the light of Christ with a people in dark desperation. In her dream her home is filled with nationals and she is serving them with gospel joy. I was humbled as I considered my own dreams, or the lack thereof, and I prayed for gospel dreams–God-given, Kingdom-building, Christ-glorifying dreams.

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Author: Lisa Spence

Wife, mother, Bible teacher, bibliophile, occasional blogger

7 thoughts on “Why the last chapter of Hoping for Something Better is my favorite”

  1. Seeing your joy over this study has made me even more excited about our little group starting our journey through Hoping for Something Better and the book of Hebrews in January. I'm starting my preparation this month, and it's exciting.

  2. Oh my. "Real contentment is found when we accept something less than what we want or something other than what we want." Definitely something I need to ponder.

  3. You make this book sound so good I want to get it too!Thanks for persevering through it and discovering with me that Jesus is really better, better, better!

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