She did it first on 16th November 1952. Charlie Brown explains to Lucy: “All you have to do is hold the ball. Then I come running and kick it.” She’s not so sure. “I don’t know if this is such a good idea.” Charlie Brown comes running, but, at the last moment, Lucy pulls back the football, explaining to the prostrate kicker: “I was afraid your shoes might be dirty, Charlie Brown. I don’t want anyone with dirty shoes kicking my new football.” He tells her: “Don’t you ever do that again! Do you want to kill me? This time, hold it tight!” She does, so tightly, he kicks a ball, which doesn’t move, and tumbles onto his back. “I held it real tight, Charlie Brown.” He laments: “I’m not going to get up. I’m going to lie here for the rest of the day.” Lucy would continue some variant of the football snatch in almost every subsequent year of the strip, all the way to 1999. The same would happen nine times in animation. Drawing the strip for the last time, Charles Schultz said that he realized, sadly, that Charlie Brown would never kick that football, but, he also thought, having him succeed would have been a disservice to the character.
Are you living with hope of kicking the ball?
Maybe you wake up today and you can describe your situation as a prison. Paul, the prisoner, encourages the saints to know hope.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,” Ephesians 1 v18.
This is a real, tangible, definite, guaranteed hope in Jesus. All of us need times of reawakened hope in Jesus where we begin to hear again the voice of the Spirit, “You are worth more than this! You have not been put on this earth to go under and stay under, to be overwhelmed and eaten away at the predicament you have found yourself to be in. You were created for something much better.”
Not that you should be free of problems and the many difficulties of this life, for your time on earth can have many challenges. But you are worth more than what those challenges can cause in you. You are worth more than just accepting that your life consists of isolation, rejection, defeat, disillusionment, anxiety, frustration, lack of self-wroth, loss of identity and the list goes on.
Do you need to begin again to put your hope in Jesus?
Priest and theologian, Henri Nouwen (1932-1996) said this of hope, it “expects the coming of something new. Hope looks toward that which is not yet. Hope reaches out beyond ourselves to a power beyond us. Hope is grounded in the historic Christ-event … and as a dramatic affirmation that there is light on the other side of darkness.” (in Seeds of Hope)
After quitting school early and a brief time in Europe working as a Red Cross driver taking soldiers to the frontline he returned to Kansas to become a cartoon illustrator. But he lost his job because the editor claimed he had no imagination. How wrong that was! He headed out to Hollywood and had failure after failure with his ideas. Universal stole his ‘Oswald the Lucky Rabbit’ idea and MGM rejected his talking mouse and his ‘Three Little Pigs’ never saw the light of day. But he kept going. Half the audience walked out of his ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’; ‘Pinocchio’ was a financial disaster; in fact all the classic films that I grew up on and which broke record after record at the Oscars and which billions of people have now watched was only possible because one failed man held on to hope. Of course the man is Walt Disney (1901-1966); the Walt Disney Company is estimated now at around $130 billion.
February 1st 1975, a famous prisoner, Nelson Mandela (who spent 27 years in prison) wrote to his wife Winnie, “You may find it difficult at first to pinpoint the negative features in your life, but the 10th attempt may yield rich rewards. Never forget that a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying. … No ax is sharp enough to cut the soul of a sinner who keeps on trying, one armed with the hope that he will rise and win in the end.”
Hope is more than optimism. There may not be any hopeful aspects of a situation which optimism clings to. But hope is found not in a situation but in a Saviour.
Hope is more than being positive. There may be no moving forward, no direction and no increase. But hope is found not in progress but in a Person.
In his book ‘Deserted by God?’, Sinclair Ferguson shares the following story:
“The first physician to die of the AIDS virus in the UK was a young Christian. He had contracted it while doing medical research in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. In the last days of his life, his power of communication failed. He struggled with increasing difficulty to express his thoughts to his wife. On one occasion she simply could not understand his message. He wrote on a note pad the letter J. She ran through her medical dictionary, saying various words beginning with J. None was right. Then she said, “Jesus?”
That was the right word. He was with them. That was all either of them needed to know.
Hope has a name and that name is Jesus.