Mere Christianity: Hope

Most of you know me well enough to know that I’m not perfect. But in case you don’t know me that well, let me just tell you that I don’t have it all together—especially by most of the definitions that you would hear in church. I lose my temper more often than I care to admit. I’ve been known to pepper my conversation with an occasional swear word. I really do enjoy a good margarita when it crosses my path. And when I get too off-balance, I’m prone to depression.

It’s pretty rare that I notice the depression creeping up until it swallows me. But one particular time, it happened while I was the pharmacist on a medical mission team in the Dominican Republic. The month before we left for the DR, I had been working 60-80 hours weeks administrating youth camp at my “day job.” I then came home each night, organized a 15-member medical team, ordered, inventoried, and packed medicines and supplies for a 12-day trip. By the time our team landed in Santo Domingo, I was being held together and driven purely by will and adrenaline.

A few days into the trip, we were to set up clinic in a village that was a couple of hours drive from our hotel. We loaded the van and headed out of town. With my sunglasses perched on my nose, for no reason at all, I simply began to cry and cry and cry. I doubled over into a fetal position and wept as the missionary, Bonnie, bent over and held me. And in her sweet little voice that I have so grown to love over the years, she asked urgently, “Sarah, where is your hope?! Where is your hope?!”

I’ve heard about pilots who become “target-fixated.” They get their target in their sights and become so focused on it that they can’t see the other obstacles and enemies that may be sneaking up on them. That’s a really good way to get blindsided.

That’s what happened to me that day in the Dominican Republic. I got focused on my target of getting the team to the DR and saving and changing lives. And the whole time, there were other issues sneaking up on me—most notably, exhaustion—but other personal issues also. When I least expected it, it swallowed me whole. When I broke under the exhaustion, it broke me to down a place of utter hopelessness. In my mind, to slow down and rest was to fail the team, to fail the people of the DR, my missionaries, myself, and God. It was as though if I took my hands off the situation, it was going to fall apart. As though it all depended on me and not God.

Ouch.

Let me tell you something that you probably know anyway: If you take God out of Sarah, Sarah is nothing. Without God, Sarah has no hope, no love, no light, no future. Without God, I’m just a shell.

There are some things I know about me and one of these things is that when I don’t have a goal, I’m lost. I can’t cope. I quickly become listless, depressed, and despondent. CS Lewis addresses that in this chapter, which is about hope. Honestly, this has been my favorite chapter thus far and if you saw my Facebook status this morning, you might have recognized that I quoted from this chapter:

“If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world….I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death…I must make it the main object of my life to press on to that other country & help others do the same.” — CS Lewis (p. 120)

Let me wrap up by quickly taking this apart and applying it to the rest of this post (and thereby, applying it to my life).

First, there is inside of me a desire that nothing in the world can satisfy. There’s a longing that I just can’t put my finger on. Nothing on this earth has ever filled it and I’ve tried to fill it with everything from sex and alcohol to killing myself in full time ministry. But there’s still something inside of me that knows that there’s more to existence than what I can see with my eyes and touch with my hands. I will ever be striving.

Second, there is a true country that I belong in and it isn’t here. And it’s in that country that the end product of my striving will come about. I love that Lewis addresses the idea of Heaven being a place where we “spend eternity playing harps.” He bats that idea down with a strong, open hand as being childish and “facetious.” Heaven isn’t that ethereal and eternal boredom at all. Heaven is that place where we meet with God to fulfill all of those desires that couldn’t be satisfied on earth—and more importantly, to fulfill all of the purposes He has for us.

And finally, there is a main object in my life. There’s a purpose. And that purpose is to press on with hope and to help others find hope in whatever way and in whatever place I can. And the most important thing to realize is that Jesus is that hope.

This post is part of the regular Wednesday book discussion on CS Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” that Jason Stasyszen and I are having on our blogs. A bunch of our friends are joining us and everyone is welcome to participate whether they’re reading along or not. If you’ll hop over to Jason’s site, you can read his take on the chapter and you can add your link to the widget if you’ve written about the chapter. Otherwise, please just hop around and make yourself at home!

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Comments

  1. well said.

  2. She’s known to lose her temper, use an occasional swear word, embrace the odd margarita when it crosses her path — and tells great stories, stories right from her heart. Great post, Sarah.

  3. Great post, Sarah. Reminds me of the old slogan: No Jesus, No Peace–Know Jesus, Know Peace. Works well with hope too. :) Thanks.

  4. “Target fixated”. Now THAT sounds familiar! Loved your post, Sarah!

  5. Your writing really drew me in. I love that C.S. Lewis quote

  6. It’s as if you were writing this as another Sarah I happen to know of… well, be, actually.
    Saving this post because I should probably read it daily over the next few weeks.
    <3

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Nance, thank you! And thank you for your faithfulness! You bless me! :)

  8. Sarah Salter says:

    Aww! Glynn, thanks so much! :)

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason, exactly! And the more we know Him, the more hope we have. Thanks for coming by! :)

  10. Sarah Salter says:

    Thanks, Helen! Don’t tell me that you’ve ever been “target fixated!” Ah, well, we’re going to have to learn together how to let go. :)

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    Megan, thanks for coming by! And thanks for your tenacity in leaving a comment. Next time, you shouldn’t have a problem. :-)

  12. Sarah Salter says:

    Sarah Bee, you may have to hold this mirror up in front of my face again. LOL! I’m glad we’re on this journey together! ILY! :)

  13. Sarah,
    I know you don’t know me. I found you “accidentally” and am so glad I did! I’ll be a regular follower now and look forward to future entries! Thanks for your transparency! I wrote a song several years ago called “Mirror of Mercy” that shares the same, central theme.

    Sincerely,
    Steve Austin

  14. Great post, such a beautiful take on Lewis’ chapter. Thanks for sharing.

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