In the early 1900’s, an ad was run in the paper that stated: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in event of success.”
Ernest Shackleton, British explorer was forming a team to attempt a sea to sea crossing of Antartica. The ship they sailed was called the Endurance. Not long into their journey, the ship was entrapped in ice and had to be abandoned.The crew camped on the frozen ice until it melted and then launched lifeboats to Elephant Island (720 miles away from their capsized boat).
Once they reached Elephant Island—Shackleton left 22 of his men, with only two boats upturned to create shelter, only penguins and seals to eat and a dark oppressive winter to face. He left them a promise: “I will come back for you.” Shackleton led 5 other crew members in a tiny 22 foot boat and launched out on a 750 mile journey for help. Miraculously the crew made the trip, upon arrival Shackleton immediately set plans to return.
Four months later after three failed attempts, the 22 men were huddled around a fire eating their daily portion of seal, one looked up and in the distance…he saw it, the ship named Yelcho. The day one survivor would call in his journal, the “day of wonders.” Abandoning their meal the men rushed toward the shore filling the air with cheers. As the ship grew closer, the men could make out a figure in the distance—Shackleton.
Shackleton recalls: “I hurried the party aboard with all possible speed,” he writes, “taking also the records of the Expedition and essential portions of equipment. Everybody was aboard the Yelcho within an hour, and we steamed north at the little steamer’s best speed…not a life lost, and we have been through hell.”
Jesus made some precious precious promises, among the most wonderful are the words that come from his mouth assuring us he will not forget about us here, he will come to us. Listen to these three:
- “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.” (John 14:18)
- “I will come back and take you with me.” (John 14:3)
- “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:24)
We are a waiting people, living on the promise of Christ, “I am coming for you.” Hold fast, hold tight…I am absolutely going to return. Waiting forms our identity, it is that which we are called to do and its how we survive…listen to this text.
“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
In 1 Peter 1:13, we are called to place all our eggs in one basket: “set your hope fully on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:13).
This is one place where you can actually do that—hope in people, hope in money, hope in health, hope in a career, hope in our abilities—all of these will ultimately come up empty. But hope in Christ, in his return and his promises—oh friends this is a hope that will truly deliver and will not disappoint.