It takes a miracle to keep me awake after 10pm.
Beginning at 8pm, I'm in danger of falling asleep at any moment.
My teenage sons turn on specific lights in our basement to prevent me from nodding off while watching TV. It rarely works. An alternative strategy entails jumping on me and yelling, “Daaaaaaaaad!” That has a higher success rate.
But there is one thing that will keep me awake:
January 1, 2021
I not only stayed awake on New Year’s Eve, I howled at the moon. Sorry sleeping neighbors.
Why did I stay up? The escape from 2020 brings something we all need:
Hope. There is hope today.
The Vital Ingredient
I'm a master at making pancakes but made an awful batch last week. My mistake: I forgot the 1/4 teaspoon of salt. The whole batch went into the trash. Some ingredients are vital.
Hope is the vital ingredient needed in every human soul. When our “Hope Meter” runs empty, despair dominates. You can't live without hope.
Despair’s chilling deception fools us into believing the future is both undesirable and unchangeable.
It's one of life's most destructive lies, and many of us have bought it. You may have paid a heavy price at the 2020 tollbooth, but do you believe the future can be different?
The Master at Getting Unstuck
Jesus once met a woman mired in a stuck, hopeless existence.
As he sat resting in the heat of the day, a woman approached with a wretched resume:
· Divorced five times
· Favorite gossip target of her town
· Hated for being a Samaritan traitor
· Living with a man who was not her husband (John 4)
The culture in the 1st century was brutal on women. Being a wife or mistress was necessary for survival - this woman's food, shelter, everything was dependent on being with a man. But her unstable track record showed no reason for optimism. She was vulnerable.
As she came to a well to draw water, Jesus’ flipped her future upside-down:
Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life. (John 4:13-14)
What did Jesus mean and why does this matter for us?
Jesus didn’t invite her to enroll in a new self-help program, read some trendy book on spirituality or make a slew of resolutions. Those things ultimately lead to more thirst because they almost work. So much of the “water” we drink leads us to believe we are almost there. We have almost arrived. The Almost Life is what she was leading. Just like us.
Jesus' words invited her and us into a different paradigm.
The End of Almost
We seek and we seek and we drink and we drink. We become almost satisfied, and we are thirsty again.
My career almost fulfills me.
My spouse almost meets my needs.
My friends almost make me feel like I belong.
My money almost gives me security.
My family almost loves me unconditionally.
The almost life is like being stuck in Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. We wake up daily wondering if we will finally break through and conquer the almost. We do it again tomorrow.
Will 2021 be another almost year for you?
Will it be a year we stubbornly chase the almost life?
How many almost seasons will we live?
Jesus invites us to put to death the almost life, and he will give real life in its place. It’s a life where we drink from a different source – one that doesn’t run dry. It’s a well that, as we grow, surprises us with its depth. When we drink deeply, we can’t imagine wasting our energy on the almost.
So take a drink. Start with a sip. There's plenty for all.
May the never-ending spring of Jesus’ love for you be the source of your identity, your direction and your hope in 2021.
THANKS FOR READING AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! I plan on writing a lot this year - would you please pass this along to someone else who would enjoy it? I'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a great day! JC