james ray johnson

Mom had her hope set on a plastic plant that was rooted in Styrofoam, surrounded by 8 cedar planks and bound by brass bands.  Back in the 50’s this was considered to be attractive! 

My dad worked awfully hard, often 2 jobs, but money always seemed to be tight.  We were not poor, but we were the next thing to it.  We couldn’t afford such an item, but mom had a plan. 

Each week, the grocer gave her S&H Green Stamps in proportion to what she spent on groceries.  With 5 kids to feed, that was a lot of brown paper bags full.  One day she gathered her stamps and drafted us kids to fill her redemption books.  We licked ourselves silly.

Then all 7 of us jumped into our 56 Chevy wagon and headed to the redemption center where mom traded her green stamps for her heart’s desire – one cedar planter. 

She was happy!  She finally had some “nice” in the midst of the drab.  She proudly placed it in the living room for all to see and she really enjoyed it – for most of one day.  

See we were a wrestling bunch.  We kids liked to mix it up with dad on the floor.   Well he flipped one of us the wrong direction and crash went the planter.  It was flatter than mom’s expression when she saw it.   

She held her tongue while dad got out the tool box, with which he was known to do wondrous things.  He once took a bicycle kickstand and refashioned it into a car gear shifter.  So he used his screws and glues and the planter was restored.  Sure, there was a chipped board and a dangling leaf, but it was still sorta nice.

Days later, another kid planted themselves on the planter.   Dad worked his magic again, but it looked – well – it was looking more like the décor of the Frankenstein household.   Mom was a saint.  She said nothing. 

The cataclysmic cycle was repeated yet again.  Mom was living the sequel to the movie Groundhog Day.

And then – a fourth crash.  But this time, mom got to the wreckage before dad and she stomped it into cedar splinters and plastic plant pulp.  She wasn’t going to leave anything that dad could possibly resurrect. 

Her hope of having something nice died with that last crash.  She could hope no more.

Hope sometimes dies!

He hoped to get promoted at work.  He gave it his best, but 5 years later he was still lodged in the same cramped cubicle.  He quit trying and settled into 8 hours a day of apathy.

She was a writer who hoped to get her novel published.  It wasn’t!  After 56 letters of rejection, she threw her manuscript in the burn pile.

A young man hoped for years that his inattentive wife might change.  She wouldn’t!  He eventually stomped on that hope when he left her for another. 

Oh, for a hope that will not disappoint!   

Oh, but there is such a hope!

Titus 1:2 speaks of the “hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before time began.”   NET Bible®   Eternal life is a never ending, blissfully, sweet existence in the company of Jesus and all our friends and family who have ever loved Him. 

According to the verse, God promised this eternal life before time began.  And since God is all knowing and all powerful and because He cannot lie, then we can count on it.

This hope will never disappoint. It is possessed only by those who have trusted Christ to remove their sins.

It’s ironic that the cedar wood in mom’s planter is valued for its ability to resist rot and insect damage.  Yet, it can’t begin to compare to the durability of our eternal hope.

Mom gave up on her prized planter, but she has held fast to the hope of eternal life.  She has passed on and is now enjoying that hope that will never be broken or even lamely patched.

My dad is trying his best to join her.  Any day now, he too will enter that place of sweet eternal hope.  But for mom’s sake, I hope he leaves his tool box behind.