On Christmas Eve I was remembering that famous poem, “T’was The Night Before Christmas” but I could only get this far and I would stall out: “T’was the night before…..”
Oh, I know the poem. So, I didn’t stall out because I didn’t know it. I stalled out because as I thought about it, the Lord gave me a word about that term: “T’was the night before.”
It seems to me that the reason this term is important in that poem is that on the next day, something exciting….something anticipated will happen. Everything in that poem had to do with the anticipation of Christmas day and all the excitement that entails. It seems that were the next day not Christmas day (or some other highly anticipated day) the night before wouldn’t really matter all that much.
We people live like this and there is something wrong with that idea.
I hear people all the time saying things like this, “I’m SO looking forward to this weekend!”
We seem to live from event to event – from one holiday or vacation or birthday to the next.
Even Christians live from spiritual event to spiritual event. One to three services per week, a conference or revival, a Christian concert or whatever becomes the pleasurable target in our focus. All the minutes and days in between seem like drudgery – something to be endured until relief comes in the form of some holiday or event.
Now, lest I be misunderstood, I tend to do this too and I DO enjoy a gathering of Christians or a concert or conference. I love when people come together for holidays as much as anyone else does.
I am convicted, though, that simply slugging through the time between these events and often hating the routines of everyday life is sin and hurts us.
As I sat on Christmas Eve thinking about that poem it occurred to me that every night is “the night before”. This is to say that every day can be an exciting adventure if we will only receive each day as the gift from the Lord that it is.
Several years ago I came to understand something about a simple word that has opened a new world of comprehension and appreciation to me. I would like to share that with you now. That word is “hope.”
Often it will be used like this, “I hope I get that job I want.” When it is used that way we might as well say something like this, “I wish I would get that job I want.”
Used in this manner, “hope” is really nothing more than a dream expressed.
It’s the spoken out desires of what one would like to see and that’s not a bad idea in itself but “hope” in God’s Word is something entirely different. It’s a much richer word in the Bible.
In the Old Testament the Hebrew word translated as “hope” is “tiqvah” (tik-vaw'). It is literally translated as “a cord (as an attachment)” but it has a figurative meaning too. I’ll reveal that in a second.
In the New Testament the Greek word for “hope” is “elpis” (el-pece'). Both the Hebrew “tiqvah” and the Greek “elpis” express something completely different from the way we more often use “hope” in the English language.
Putting together the Biblical definition of “hope” from the Hebrew and the Greek we get something like this: “expectation, joyful anticipation, confidence…the thing that I long for.”
I once asked a born again person if she was going to heaven when she died and she said, “I hope so” to which I said with much passion, “Lady, that just isn’t good enough! Jesus didn’t die and rise again so you could kinda wish you would go to heaven; He died so you would KNOW you were going to spend forever with Him!”
She didn’t have real hope….at least she didn’t yet. After I explained the certainty of her salvation she had real hope. She was no longer afraid of what tomorrow held for her and she looked with anticipation of when she would be with Jesus – no doubt about it!
“These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)
We hear preachers and evangelists say this all the time: “God has a wonderful plan for your life.” Not only are those pleasant words to hear but they are true! God does have a wonderful plan for your life.
“‘…I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)
“…we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
We must receive this truth and actively believe…be living…it and that will not happen for us so long as we live from event to event and do not treasure every moment in between events each moment as a handpicked gift from the Lord.
Why can’t we anticipate tomorrow like this? Why not every tomorrow? I think we can.
In Hebrews chapter 4 the writer speaks about how every day is “Today”, entreating us to seize it as the day in which we can rest upon the Lord. The writer’s basis for saying this is his hope…his joyful expectation that the Source of our rest, Jesus, will always be there and available.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
I encourage you to take some time tonight, before you go to sleep, to ponder tomorrow. Look upon your life as an adventure that starts “the night before”.
Jesus is here now. He will be here tonight. He never changes. He has intentions for your life. He will continue to work those in your life tomorrow. He never changes.
Let’s end our days….for the rest of our days….looking with true hope, in joyful expectation at Jesus and what HE has in store for us.
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
May tonight be your “night before ______________.”