Hope Shapes the Future

The Shawshank Redemption movie is about a banker "Andy" Dufresne who is falsely convicted of murder and sentenced to two consecutive life sentences at Shawshank State Penitentiary in Maine. Andy is quickly befriended by "Red" Redding, a fellow inmate serving a life sentence.

Andy, because of his financial genius, is used by the Warden to do his tax returns and keep the financial records of his money laundering operation. Andy conceives a brilliant escape plan.

He talks to Red about "hope" of being on the outside and living in Zihuatanejo, a Mexican-Pacific coastal town. This hope shaped Andy's living on the inside. Red, because his repeated parole applications are always denied, gives up hope of ever being released. He believes Andy is a fool to talk about hope. But Andy says, "if you ever get out of here Red, go to these crossroads, to this rock fence, near a particular tree, and look under a specific type of rock." Andy escapes.

Finally Red is paroled and he makes his way to the stated site. There he finds Andy's tin containing money and this note: "Hi Red. Hope is a good thing.  May be the best of things. And no good thing ever dies." At that point Red has to decide whether he is going to get busy dying or busy living.

For four hundred years the hope of leaving Egypt is kept alive in the nation of Israel. It shapes a nation's outlook.  It inspires their dreams. The dream of being free. This hope is based on a promise made to the Father of the nation, Abraham. God had promised to Abraham and to his descendants, a land, the land of Canaan. The promise came true and under Moses' leadership, God redeems a whole nation of slaves.

God promises to free us. Not from physical slavery, but spiritual slavery, slavery to sin. One such slave wrote: "I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. I do not understand my own actions. For I am unable to do what I want, instead, I do the very thing I hate . . . the evil I do not want to do is what I do. I am a slave to sin that lives within me . . . I am being held a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my total being. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death” Romans 7. The answer to that desperate cry is Jesus Christ. His death on the cross was an act of redemption.

The only way to be freed, redeemed, from the tyranny of sin and ultimate damnation is through faith in Jesus Christ. ". . . we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God . . . and hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us" Romans 5:1-3. The hope of eternally being part of God's kingdom inspires us to get busy with living in the light of eternity.

Dr Keith Graham

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