Words of Advent’s hope

Published 7:03 pm Tuesday, December 10, 2019

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By Charles Qualls

“So, you’re telling me there’s a chance … .”

I confess that I haven’t even seen the entire film. Not even close. But, that line from a 1994 comedy was uttered by actor Jim Carey and has become a cultural catch-phrase. It lets us poke fun at ourselves when something we wanted, or hoped for, appears to have little or no chance at all.

Carey’s character in the movie is not very intelligent, not very attractive and in pursuit of a beautiful girl who by all conventional measures is way out of his league. She is kind to him, but isn’t interested at all. Finally, in a tender scene, the two of them are alone.

He asks her to level with him. What are the chances of a guy like him ending up with a girl like her? “Not good,” she says. “Not good, as in one-in-a-hundred?” he asks. “Not good,” she says, “as in one-in-a-million.” Carey hesitates, his face lights up and he says, “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

A rebuilding Georgia Tech football team opened its season this year trying to get used to new schemes on both sides of the ball. Players had left in the face of brand new coaches coming in. The team was outmanned and in a state of complete overhaul as they opened the entire season not against a patsy opponent from a lower level of competition. But instead, on the road against the defending National Champion orange team from down in South Carolina, whose name is never uttered at our house.

So it was that Las Vegas set the line with Georgia Tech having about a 2.5-percent chance of winning. That may have been generous. I heard about the 2.5-percent line mid-week before the game. I looked at Elizabeth and said, “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance!”

In Isaiah 11:1-10, the prophet wrote several hundred years before Christ concerning God’s provision for Judah and a troubled world. This is a sacred word from our Old Testament that was filled with hope. Hope that we Christians claim was delivered in the form of a Christmas baby. One born from the house and lineage of David, son of Jesse.

In the plant world, a shoot is a chance. At the very least, a sign of new life. Hope. Another chapter.

On our family farm, we once cut down a tree. My dad wasn’t usually given to worrying about aesthetics. Neither truthfully, was my mother, compared with the nurture of living plants and animals themselves. So, the stump was left where the tree had been. It sat about 6 inches or above the ground. An ugly, grey reminder of the beautiful tree that had once stood there.

Sometime later, in another season, I was down in that part of our yard when something caught my eye. I made my way over, because my curiosity wouldn’t allow me to just move on. There was something green coming from the top of the stump. A shoot of life from the tree that had been. A sign that the tree had not been completely dead, just mostly. Now, a fascinating new chance had begun.

Isaiah tells us that this promised one will live a special life. He will not sell his soul to comply with what humanity has become. The only way this shoot becomes a new tree is if He grows into what He has been destined to become. What our world so desperately needed, then and now.

Notice what Isaiah said would result from this special child. We have a chance, Isaiah said. A chance at a new world. Everything Isaiah said here was unlikely. Every bit of it.

His metaphors, his tiny parables, sounded impossible on purpose. So does our faith sound impossible to many around us today. Even to us, at times, we might confess in the honesty of our souls. In Jesus Christ, we have a chance! We have a chance for a new chapter of life. We have a chance to find a new purpose. We have a chance at salvation.

About this time of year, in many of our churches we decorate for Advent. As we do so, we place a lot of green. We hang the green. The color is a symbol of eternal life in Jesus Christ. We do so because in Jesus Christ, we have a chance.

THE REV. DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.