Colum Cille (13)
The wrathful zeal of fire will consume the enemy,
who do not wish to believe that Christ came from God the Father.
But we will straightway fly to meet him,
and will be with him in various ranks
of dignity, according to the merits of [our] eternal rewards,
and will remain in glory forever and ever.
Who can satisfy God in the last times,
when the noble rules of truth have been changed,
save for those who scorn this present world?
- Colum Cille, “Exalted First Sower”
For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
- Romans 8.24, 25
Everyone lives toward some hope. Typically, people hope in what they can see, or at least, see in prospect. A better job. A new smart phone. A satisfying relationship. And so forth. We all have these temporal hopes, and they’re neither bad nor wrong.
They’re just not enough.
Our soul longs for unfading, unfailing hope. An eternal hope. A hope that never disappoints. And that hope, Colum knew, is only to be found in Jesus Christ. He is the One Who never fails us nor forsakes us. He is the One Who makes all things new. He is that Good Shepherd, the Mighty Savior, the Loving Lord. We come to Him confident that He will not cast us away and that in Him, in His eternal Presence, we will know fullness of joy and holy pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16.11).
Life on Iona could be very difficult. Sustaining a community and its many visitors was hard work. Little in the way of material benefits could be expected. But Colum and the monks on Iona did not set their hope on material benefits. In these final two stanzas of “Exalted First Sower”, Colum points to the return of Jesus as the glorious last chapter of history, when He descends with a shout and a trumpet to gather His saints and judge the world. Then, in the new heavens and new earth, His faithful people will enjoy the rewards of their earthly labors without boasting, jealousy, or disappointment, for we will altogether see the face of Jesus and will be like Him (1 Jn. 3.1-3). He is the only reward that will matter.
This is the believer’s hope. But such hope can only be ours when we scorn the values, priorities, and ways of “this present world”. The more we hope for more of this world’s goods, the more we heap disappointment onto our soul, and the more we despair of ever knowing true hope. And Christians do this in many ways. We hope to find a perfect church. We hope our church will grow numerically. We hope we’ll find some Christian friends. We hope we will not be too inconvenienced by our commitment to follow Jesus—a hope we don’t dare speak but likely feel from time to time.
And so while it’s not bad to have hopes that we pursue in this world, we must be careful, for these can easily become the hopes that define our lives, so that we neither see Jesus nor experience the great joy of hoping in Him.
Hoping in Jesus is the source of true peace, joy, contentment, and zeal for ministry. But it doesn’t come easily, what with all those lesser distracting hopes clamoring to have the preeminence in our lives. Plus, the unbelieving world does not share our hope in Jesus. Rather, it belittles such a notion, or denies it outright, and this can cause one to draw back from hoping too much in Jesus, at least publicly.
The Christian has a true, lasting, and altogether satisfying hope. But we must not lose sight of it. Rather, by devoting time to meditating on Jesus, exalted in glory, coming again in judgment, setting an eternal table of blessing for us, and shepherding us forever beside still waters and in green meadows of grace, we can know a hope that never disappoints and that nothing can take away. We can know a hope that carries us through trials, strengthens us against temptation, empowers us for witness, moves us to joy in serving, and fills us with the sense of God’s Presence so that we know no fear (Ps. 46; Rom. 8.1).
Colum knew that hope, and he shared it with all who came to labor with or visit him. And all who share the hope that Colum knew will never be disappointed, for that blessed eternal hope will continue to deliver satisfaction, peace, and joy forever and ever, world without end.
1. How often do you take time to meditate on the Christian’s hope?
2. Whom can you encourage today with the hope we have in Jesus?
Psalm 96.11-13 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above)
Let heaven sing with lusty voice; let earth and sea sing sweetly!
Let fields and trees in Him rejoice, for He is coming swiftly
to judge the world in righteousness, the peoples in His faithfulness.
He comes; exalt Him greatly!
Lord Jesus, fill my soul with a vision of Your majesty, greatness, power, and glory, so that I…
T. M. Moore, Principal
What in Heaven is Jesus doing on earth?
Jesus rules the world with truth and grace from His throne at the right hand of God. How can we grow in this blessed vision and hope? Our book, What in Heaven Is Jesus Doing on Earth? can help. Learn more and order your free copy by clicking here.
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 John Carey, King of Mysteries (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 1998), pp. 48, 49.