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20140521_164204Bridges draw my eyes up and across their magnificent structures. Age and wear tug at my slumbering imagination, inspiring me to wonder at a bridge’s creation and years of shouldering live burdens toward safety. The builder invested careful engineering before setting the first stone at its foundation. Intense toil erected its magnificent path. The suffering laborer knew his work would provide means to cross a treacherous divide. For those who would follow his work, the bridge offered freedom from grave pitfalls below. The number of bridge goers would continue to increase beyond the end of the worker’s life. How many life stories plodded across this divide? Who paused to gaze into the ravine below and consider the passion required to secure their way?

So it is with our Bridge to Eternal Hope. Our Father, the Great Bridge Builder, engineered our way as soon as its need began. When sin ruptured the earth and triggered an epic collapse, a ravine gaped between the Father and His children. Deadly pitfalls threatened us, and we could not reach Him. The Father placed each stone with precise engineering, His heart empassioned to carry His children home securely. At the perfect moment, He set the Cornerstone which would never falter. Christ toiled and suffered, rending His body as building materials for the cross beams. He crafted a bridge to traverse the impossible divide.

We no more need linger on this forsaken shore. The passage welcomes us, drawing our wondering eyes up and over its secure structure. Let’s cross together with thankful and joyous hearts, pausing to cast a tearful gaze across the ravine. Thank You, Lord, for making the Way for us.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

 

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. ..But 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 Christand seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,…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.” Ephesians 2:1-9

“God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people.” 1Timothy 2:3-6

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

She tumbles out of bed and staggers for a light switch. A bedraggled creature squints at her from the bathroom. She recoils and gasps. When the fuzzy head mimics her retreat, she recognizes her reflection. She hopes the shower will renew her motivation to start the day, but there isn’t enough water in the city to freshen her attitude.

She chugs a triple venti on the way to work. After all, venti means ‘let’s go,’ right? Her heartbeat speeds up, and traffic grates on every raw brain nerve now pulsing with caffeine.

Coworkers and supervisors push and pull at her limbs for five hours. Invisible vines slither around her waist, tethering her to the desk chair through lunch. The afternoon hours tick along like an overplayed single on the oldies’ station.

At last the hour of freedom rings. She springs from the desk stocks and races to her car, only to sit imprisoned in traffic for the following hour. Despite its consistent failure to accelerate her commute, she commences the daily routine of arguing with drivers who cannot hear her.

Errands carve detours into the evening drive–take the kids here, pick up something for so-and-so, they said the charity meeting would only last an hour. . .

Chocolate bars and salty snacks glue slipping palms to the steering wheel. Soda bubbles perk open bloated eyelids. She trudges home and dumps herself into a puddle on the couch. Bagful of fast food in hand, she clicks on the ten-o’clock news. Thirty minutes of journalistic slant on the horrors of mankind settles into her thoughts with a thousand calories of fat and sodium. She nods off twice before turning the set off and dragging herself toward another restless night.

Do you know this woman? She doesn’t have time for wellness. She’s too tired to think about her unhealthy cycle. The creature in the mirror looks worse each week, and she thinks it must be time for a vacation. 

No one plans to live in these ruts. We all wish for happiness, energy, and fulfillment. Sometimes we resolve to make drastic shifts that we can’t maintain, and their failure returns us to the original routine. A wish without an effective plan becomes a regret.

If we can’t make effective plans, does that mean we’re stuck? Only if we aspire to optimize life on our own strength. Instead of resorting to a humanistic wellness plan, we need divine guidance. One Being embodies true wellness. God can inhabit each part of our day and infinitely enhance life’s joy, revitalization, and meaning.

She opens her eyes with praises to the God Who Sees her. She stretches and honors the Maker of her limbs. A smile greets her from the mirror. Silent prayers weave through her workday’s demands, and she takes a lunch hour walk with her Savior at least three times a week. The rush hour drivers don’t hear her praying for them, nor do they hear the joyful music and devotional audio books in her car stereo. Sometimes their gazes lock, and her grins prove contagious. The home-bound detours require less chocolate and soda. Bottled water reminds her of the wellspring of her soul and bagged fruit of the Spirit’s productive role in her life. She enjoys a salad while watching an inspiring film or reading scripture each night. Before it gets too late, she speaks the Words of her Soul’s Lover over her life and climbs into a restful night’s sleep.

“I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:5

“I will praise the Lord, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me.”Psalm 16:7

“By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.”Psalm 42:8

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being” Ephesians 3:16

“you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.” Colossians 1:10-12

 

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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