My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand;
all other ground is sinking sand,
all other ground is sinking sand.
When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace;
in every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.
His oath, his covenant, his blood
support me in the whelming flood;
when all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.
When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne. 
Edward Mote’s lyrics, penned in 1834, and as currently sung by Hillsong Worship under the title “Cornerstone,”  have been echoing through my spirit for days. The days of darkness, the stormy gales, the unmet prayers and unanswered questions–and often, the veiled face. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
We’re entering our third year of homesteading here in Charlottesville–chickens, pigs (I named the new fellas BBQue and Chitlin’), Angus beef, and garden beds sown with much seed. Some seeds may be planted, watered, and left alone to produce 100 fold–beets, onions, greens, okra. Others must be tenderly staked, lest the bountiful growth crush the very plant nourishing each vegetable–tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and pole beans. Unstaked tomatoes break off the vines and rot on the ground. Same with peppers and cucumbers. Staking is a tedious but absolutely necessary process. My husband, the preservationist, has carefully tended each plant. He has anchored, or “staked”, so to speak, numerous systems on the homestead, faithfully tending the berry vines, fruit trees, hen house, and even electric fencing. The curvy road leading from our land into town is beautifully adorned with orchards and vineyards–neat rows of meticulously lined up and staked vines already blooming with promise. I am reminded of Christ’s declaration, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Apart from me you can do nothing.”  None of my efforts beyond Him will remain.
As trained marriage and family coaches, we have worked with countless couples exhorting them to stake their marriages on Christ, not charm, personality, or mutual interests. You meet. You’re in love. You marry. Adversity strikes. Boredom develops. Irritation arises. Then what? Where is your anchor? Does your marriage reflect the mutual joyful love of Christ and his Bride or do you merely coexist or let it go, “hoping” things will get better?
I cannot shake off the increasing awareness that it must be Christ Alone, not my talents, education, charm, or ease of availability, all admission tickets I proffered as I began ministerial service 25 years ago.
As I step over the threshold of 50 and the music of my high school years is now referred to as “oldies,” I have engaged in deep meditation on the futility of human pride and Christ’s call to die to one’s self. My hope may have been tenuously tied to my world travels, educational achievements, business advances, tomes of literary masterpieces that I have read, fitness goals, children, and even multi-tasking accomplishments. Like the proverbial unstaked vegetable plant, the fruit did not remain but expired on the vines having grown and rotted on the soil of human endeavors. I was dressed in my own humanity, not His righteousness. And no, I could not do all or even most things.
How is it that Paul declares, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me?”  Christ, the son of God entered our world as a man, walked in all humanity as we do, and died for our sins on the cross. He was strengthened through the bloody death and resurrection of absolute perfection. Because of the cross we have victory! Paul reminds us that “This (our debt) He set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” 
Because of the cross we have been redeemed. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, ‘cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.’“  We have admittance to the throne room of God Almighty, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.”  We die to sin and live to righteousness. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” 
We conquer sin and Satan, because we “have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” 
Without the cross, we have nothing. The only Son of God became man so that He could enter into the feelings of our weakness  My hope is anchored, staked to the cross–it is my forgiveness of sin, entrance into the presence of God, my strength when His face seems veiled, my anchor in the storms of unanswered prayers.
Putting the stakes in the soil adjacent to our plants is not sufficient! They’ll still fall over unless they are tied to the stake. My husband, Mark, carefully ties each vine to the upholding stakes or trellises to train our cucumbers how to grow and connect. The ties with which we anchor ourselves to the cross are our consistent presence in the Word of God. It is life to our bones, water to our emerging vegetation and never returns void. After years of Bible school and seminary I was somewhat jaded–been there, done that. What’s new? I neglected to tie myself to consistent lingering in the Word of God. Was I ever wrong! I humbled myself, picked up the Word, and committed to a daily plan through which I read the complete Bible each year. It has been life transforming.
What is sown in your garden and how is it planted? Have you watered, tended, tied, and staked it all–each step being absolutely necessary? We have an opportunity to plant our seeds of disappointment and loss, stake them to the cross, tie them to the Word and water them with our tears of grief, then allow the Sun to bring fruit that remains. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
 Edward Mote, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less,” 1834.
 Hillsong, Cornerstone. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=izrk-erhDdk
 John 15:5, ESV.
 Philippians 4:13.
 Colossians 2:14-15.
 Galatians 3:13.
 1 Peter 3:18.
 1 Peter 2:24.
 Rev 12:11.
 Hebrews 4:14-16.
The featured image is courtesy of Julie Jablonski and is used with her kind permission for Cultivating.
Mary has cherished life-long literary dreams coupled with a passion for ministry, all of which lead her to study English literature and later theology and counseling in seminary. She has been designing artisan jewelry for nine years while homeschooling son Ian and daughter Julianna. After 14 years of ministry in San Diego she and her husband Mark Miller, along with their teenagers and cat, Lord Peter Wimsey relocated to Charlottesville, VA where they enjoy farm life, chickens and all. Mary enjoys off-the-wall humor, gardening, cooking, and curling up with anything penned by Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, or Jane Austen.
A Field Guide to Cultivating ~ Essentials to Cultivating a Whole Life, Rooted in Christ, and Flourishing in Fellowship
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