BY MICHELLE WILLIAMS, GRACE ATTENDER & BLOGGER
What does a thrill of hope feel like? I imagine there are a lot of ways to describe it. And just as we are all created uniquely in the image of God, I imagine that the thrill of His hope may feel uniquely distinct for each one of us. But one thing remains the same for all of us, as Dave preached this weekend: Jesus is the hope that God promised us.
Simeon knew well the thrill of hope delivered by God through Jesus. Although none of us were around at the time of Jesus’ birth to experience the same thrill of hope that Simeon may have felt, everyone has been invited to experience the hope Jesus brought us. In other words, the hope still thrills for all those who truly believe. (Yep, I just did that!)
But how did Simeon know that the baby Jesus was the Messiah God had promised? What made him believe that Jesus was the answer? The text in Luke 2 reveals that the Holy Spirit led him to Jesus. What I find so cool about that is this: the Holy Spirit is in everyone, whether they realize it or not. Accessing it is simply a matter of faith.
I say “simply a matter of faith” knowing full well that faith doesn’t sound so simple to some. And I can relate. Seven years ago, I was there. I felt lost, I felt like something was missing from my life, and I completely doubted my own capacity for rich and true faith. But then in October 2010, my husband and I walked into Grace Church. That’s when the tide started turning.
During the Drift series earlier this year, I realized a key element that has made the difference for me. I can sum it up in two words: Bold steps. Dave preached, “To increase your faith, you will have to take some bold steps.” In processing after that sermon, pieces of my life started flashing before my eyes. Those pieces of life were the times in which I had taken the types of bold steps Dave had described. And the bold step that really set the trajectory for increasing my faith was walking into Grace Church that first time.
I know, “going to church” doesn’t quite sound like the degree of boldness we talked about in that series, but let me help you with some character development. I was raised in small Methodist churches. That was comfortable for me. When my husband pointed to the giant white church on 146th Street and said, “Let’s try that one,” I honestly cringed at first. All my life, I had been conditioned to be wary of big churches. “They’re so impersonal.” “Be careful, they can be a little cult-like.” “They’re just shallow.” This is stuff I heard from people I knew, trusted and loved. Walking into Grace Church was indeed a bold step for me. But it was only the first in the series of bold steps that followed and ultimately filled up my cup of faith.
I’ve written about a few of my bold steps already. Writing for the Grace Church blog has been a bold step for me. Becoming involved in the community gardens has been another. And I could take you down a rabbit hole of other bold steps—but the key is that bold steps like these have been integral in strengthening my faith over the last seven years. And once you’re filled with faith, the Holy Spirit seems to start showing up everywhere. I believe that once you’re filled with faith, accessing the power of the Holy Spirit becomes simply a matter of paying attention and looking for it. You’ll see it everywhere—even in people who don’t realize that God is actually at work in them. (By the way, finding that is a thrill!)
Words can’t accurately describe the thrill of hope because it’s an intimately personal experience. Each bold step and each interaction with the Holy Spirit shapes that experience in unique ways. The thrill is what results when your soul gets what it needs when it needs it.
The Holy Spirit was upon Simeon. Over his life, he took bold steps that increased his faith and became tuned in with the Holy Spirit. So when the Holy Spirit told him that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah delivering hope, he instinctively believed it. Being in tune with the Holy Spirit means that the hope of Jesus flows as naturally as a well. Without a cup full of faith and a familiar relationship with the Holy Spirit, would any of us have believed that the baby Jesus was the Messiah as Simeon did? Probably not. That’s why the bold steps are the precursor to faith, as faith is the precursor to tuning in with the Holy Spirit. If you’re seeking the thrill of hope, this is the way. Take the bold steps, and receive the gift of hope that our Father so desperately wants to give.
Take a Bold Step
1. Go to church. Maybe you've never been. Maybe it's been 20 years. Maybe you were hurt by the church and are trying to find your way back. No matter where you are, take the first bold step by walking through the doors. If you're in the Indy, Fishers, Noblesville, Carmel, Westfield areas (or even beyond), we'd LOVE to have you at Grace (check out our locations here). If not, simply ask a friend or coworker a church they'd recommend or simply give it the old Google search. We're also happy to recommend a church! Just ask us.
2. Get involved at church. Hope can be found by connecting deeper in community and/or volunteering. Most churches (including Grace) have ways for you to jump. Connect here