Another year begins.
There is something special about turning over the calendar from December to January. It’s like we are given a chance to erase the problems of the past and begin again. Christmas and New Year is a joyous time, and we seem to forget the worries and problems of our regular, day-to-day life. Even if most of it is a blur.
That’s the lure of this holiday season.
We finish work preparing for Christmas, ready to relax and embrace the holiday season. We celebrate with friends, open presents, pop champagne, eat scrumptious food and watch the worries of normal life fade into the background.
New Years Eve especially does this to us. It’s like for 24 hours we all enter a dream where there is no pain, no hurt, no worry and no need to engage in the issues of actual life. We become characters in a story that childhood fairy tales are made off.
Everyday over the holiday season is like we are at Disneyland. Our bank account is a bottomless pit of cash. We eat like our bodies will recover like elite athletes. And we mingle with family like we are the societal standard for inter personal relationships.
It’s all a little bit surreal. Maybe a little bit fake…?
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Then it happens. We suddenly wake up on New Years Day from our man-made nirvana. Last nights party needs to be cleaned up. Our tummies grumble as they process the food we consumed. The bank starts to send letters requesting payment for the use of their credit card. In one almighty thud, we come back to earth. We slowly start to remember what normal life looks like. We begin to wake up out of dreamy state.
Most of us made some sort of new years resolution. Whether we voiced them publicly or just thought about them in the shower, we all considered what the future might bring. And probably, you’re hoping that 2014 is better than last year. Even if last year was good, you want this year to be better.
The problem is, we did this last year. And the year before that, and the year before that. We’ve been here before, only to discover that the hope we wished for was short-lived. What if 2014 fails you? What if the hope of a better year lasts as long as your resolutions? Then what?
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In a few days, my two weeks leave will be over. Like many of you, it means heading back to the daily grind. The cycle that we escaped from two weeks ago reappears with the same struggles and battles as last year. The normality of life is about to resume.
And as it resumes I realise that the hope and joy I experienced over the holidays needs to run a marathon. It needs to be my lifeblood. The very vein that keeps me going. I don’t want the hope of a better life to last for just the holiday season, or a single night when my calendar changes years.
The hope that I need has to see me through to next Christmas, and many years into the future. It needs to ride the highs and lows with me. It needs to push through the barriers that appear. When I’m tired and the reality of my mortal, pain riddled life takes hold, I need to be reminded of a hope that never fades.
Hope that runs a marathon means patiently pursuing your dream of having a job you love.
Hope that runs a marathon means forgiving that person who hurt you so that the bitterness won’t hold you back.
Hope that runs a marathon means continuing to pursue the lengthy and costly process of IVF to one day realise your desire of being a father or mother.
Hope that runs a marathon means persisting with your fight of the injustice caused to children in countries that are being oppressed.
Hope that runs a marathon means forgiving and overseeing your spouse’s faults, so you can enjoy them for the gift they are to you.
That kind of hope can’t run a sprint, lest it be short lived with no substance. A life that wants those things, fulfilling things, depends upon a hope that is able to withstand the rigours of a world that is far from perfect.
So go ahead, dream, imagine, plan and resolve that 2014 will be your best year yet. Because it may just be the case. Every year that Jesus continues to guide your life and permeate your future, hope is present and the purposes of God are being fulfilled.
Hope is not a mirage on the horizon like New Years Eve celebrations would suggest. It’s a baby born in a feeding trough, giving you the keys to unlock a life that will see you through for all of eternity – not simply until your holidays are over or your resolutions come true.
Hope runs a marathon in the person of Jesus.
I resolve for that to be my future.