When I was a little girl, I lived for Christmas Eve. It was a time of expectation and belief in the unseen: complete hope. I hoped for that new gift that I told Santa I wanted under my tree, and I patiently watched Pat Prokop track Santa as he made his way around the world. I waited for him to make his way to tiny Lyons, Georgia, and I sat on Granny's porch and looked into the sky hoping to catch a glimpse of his sleigh. I never saw him, but every year, gifts were left under my tree, and they were just the ones I'd asked for and more.
As an adult, I still enjoy Christmas Eve. I don't anticipate the gifts, and I couldn't care less if there were any with my name on them under the tree. My parents ask what I want, and I respond with answers like "Tide, Cascade, shampoo and gift certificates for haircuts." (I'm such an exciting person). Even though I'm no longer anticipating and hoping for the gifts, I'm oping for and expecting so much more. I'm celebrating a hope that came to be son long ago.
I can only imagine the people hoping for a messiah and then receiving one in the form of a baby. My hopes are a little different, but thy all start with that baby. I hope that I'm following the path God has chosen for me. I hope I'm making a difference in the lives of the students I teach. I hope I'm changing this tiny community, and I hope I'm speaking love every day. I could name so many more.
I have to have something in which to put my hope, and sometimes, like Santa, this Jesus fella is hard to put my hope in. However, like Santa, He always shows up with gifts. When I'm worried, He gives me peace. When I'm tired, He gives me strength. When I feel like I can't go on, He gives me rest. When I feel alone, He's the one who is there. I can't see Him, but because I have Him, I have hope. I wait expectantly knowing He will supply what I ask for and even more.
Hope is hard because we can't see it. We have to wait and that isn't easy for anyone. hope is defined as "someone in which expectations are centered." So what is Hope? What does Hope look like? Hope is a baby born in a manger, or the one you once held in your arms; a child working alongside his father in a carpenter's shop, or the one you watched sing "Jesus Loves Me" for the very first time; a man washing the feet of his friends, or the friend who stood by your side when you needed it the most. Finally, Hope is a man hanging on a cross. Romans 8:24 says, "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what h already sees?" I hope because my Hope lives in me. Even though I've never physically seen Jesus, I know he's here because he gives me glimpses of himself every day. Like Santa, my God was faithful with the gift of His son. Because of that baby named Jesus, I will Hope.