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The gymnast springs from the mat to the impossible bars above. Her willowy form flips in an artful spiral through the air. Gasps rise from the arena as the routine mounts toward her final moment. She whirls from the heights and unfolds her legs. The entire performance depends on the ending impact. Her heels stick the landing with grace. A roar of applause echoes around her.

I’ve long admired the grace of gymnasts. I bear all the clumsiness of a Lucille Ball character, without the intentionality. Just this week, I bumped my head emptying the dishwasher and busted my thumb vacuuming. Someone asked if I planned to go ice skating this winter. I tried not to snort while guffawing in response to that one. Good thing my parents had second thoughts about giving me the middle name, Grace. The irony would’ve been overwhelming to bear for a lifetime.

If anyone needs grace, I do. I wish it were only a matter of poor coordination, but I’ve demonstrated clumsiness of the soul as well. No matter how much I’d like to hide my scrapes, I have stumbled over my selfishness and pride plenty of times this year. Worries tripped me. I tangled a knot of criticism into my hair a couple of times. Annoyance choked me with more intensity than the infinity scarf which took half a day to figure out.

What a mess of snot and frizz I’d be if I tried to stick a graceful landing! Or, as the apostle Paul put it, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).

Thank God I don’t have to depend on a flawless performance for a perfect outcome. I vault into my life’s path with the intent of obeying God’s will. One moment, my spirit soars in beautiful alignment with His. Then my focus wobbles. Christ offers me the grace I lack. He draws my mind and heart back into synch with His. With each day’s prayers of heartfelt repentance, I seek His grace. Awkward girl that I am, God knows I need it often. And Jesus promises I can count on it for a beautiful ending. Thankfully, He’s always willing to correct my straying flip and make that impossible landing happen with His perfect grace.

As we approach the end of one year and peek into the next year’s performance, will you share my confidence in His sufficient grace? Let’s look forward to ending and starting anew with the perfect outcomes of Christ in center focus. The applause of a “great cloud of witnesses” will fill the kingdom as we stick that heavenly landing.

May the redeeming power of our Savior bless your New Year’s celebrations and all of 2015.

“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).

because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace . . . For it is by grace you have been saved,through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:4-10).

 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. . . For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. . . . What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:15-25).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1).

Children’s sleighbell dreams dissolved from their slumber last night. Sugarplum visions faded before bedtime. A cacophony of wishes  from young lips and old circled the globe this season. The fortunate celebrated their satisfaction, while others clutched the pangs of unfulfillment on their way to bed. Seasonal anticipation shrivels with a turn of the calendar page. Other longings persist with little regard for date.

Wants and needs often construct dream content, the connection increasing during seasons insisting we expect happiness. Good dreams offer us the gifts and sustenance we desire or the restoration for which we thirst. Nightmares exchange hope for the peril we most fear.

The heart’s desire knits patterns for a common REM cycle, but wilder dreams exist. Not every notion grows from within. A dream beyond common notions strikes new vision into the sleeper. An unforeseen epiphany dawns upon the chosen one. Such a dream does not fade at a new calendar page. The refreshed dreamer rises with a passionate desire to obey the Lord’s call.

Before we tuck away the early chapters of Matthew and Luke with our Christmas decor, notice the divine messages offered in dreams. Scripture does not bother to mention ordinary notions entertained in slumber. Ancient folks longed for satisfaction, perhaps more than the average modern sleeper. Though we might relate to their dreams of want and need, the Bible omits the common content and cites the extraordinary dreams instead.

Beyond imagination, the Lord pressed His lips into minds and spoke through dreams. The Old Testament visions appeared centuries apart, but a heavy concentration of divine dreams occur as Jesus sets foot on the earth. God encouraged Joseph to wed Mary in a dream. The Magi received warning of Herod’s plot in a dream. The Lord spoke to Joseph again, urging him to rise from bed and flee to Egypt during the night. Unlike the visionaries of the Old Testament, the Lord inhabited the dreams of ordinary Gentiles and an impoverished tradesman. With the advent of Christ’s birth, the Lord established His plan to draw all of us near to His Word.

As Christmas Day settles behind us, the time of dreaming about a new year approaches. Common notions of resolution and wishes will fill the air until a strong wind gusts them away with the calendar pages. We can choose to dream of our own desires, as is customary, or listen for God’s voice. We can seek His purpose in waking hours, whether He visits our slumbering thoughts or not. Christ offers His presence within us at all times of day and night, every day of the year. He constructs a new way of thinking. Regardless of our material circumstances–whether fortunate or unfortunate by the world’s standards–He configures us with an identity of hope that revitalizes and exceeds life.

Will you choose to dream beyond common notions this year?

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” — Romans 12:2

Since childhood, my eyes have gleamed at the enormous jewel descending at the close of each year. Confetti blizzards and cheers herald the fresh start we hope will bring us toward a better life. Though we mark time’s passage with electronic calendars and clocks each hour of the year, New Year’s Eve takes the celebration to a magical level.

We list regrets, praying the late hours do not slip away with our dreams. Repentance and resolutions blare across the earth like millions of paper horns. The hour of second chances and fresh starts stirs the world to effervesce with promises.

Time, our guest of honor on this holiday, soon erodes the passions offered to it. Commitments fail and hope fades before the next holiday colors our calendar.

I still enjoy New Year’s Eve. Instead of honoring the passage of time, I celebrate the One Who holds time in His hands. As millions cheer at the glittering crystal globe, I rejoice and thank God He will never drop the ball. His promises of redemption never fail. The brilliance of hope born at Christmas does not fade with the turn of a calendar page. In the eternal Kingdom, each day offers an opportunity to celebrate Christmas, Easter, and Pentacost all at once. As an heir to everlasting life, I know His dreams for me will prevail against the entropy of time. What better reason to ring in the coming year with soul-deep joy?

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