“Hey tomorrow, where are you goin’? Do you have some room for me? ‘Cause night is fallin’ and the dawn is callin’, I’ll have a new day if she’ll have me . . .” ~Jim Croce~
Jim Croce captured my imagination when a politician nicknamed Tricky Dick was tap-dancing around legal maneuvers to remain in the Oval Office. There were accusations and subpoenas being held at bay by a picket fence of lies and convoluted constitutional reasoning.
It was July 1973. At a camp in upstate New York, life took an unforeseen turn. I was tumbling head over heels in love with a strawberry-blonde college girl with an engaging smile and the prettiest blue eyes. Mr. Croce’s lyrical spin on happenings became an instant connecting point for us. Forty-six years later that young lady and I are still pressing on as we unpack all the joys and sorrows of life together. Where on earth did all the time and miles go? How did next week, next month, next year get transformed into a whole slew of yesterdays?
Yesterday can disappear as rapidly as smoke on the wind. Nostalgia Ville is a nice place to visit, but no one should actually take up residence there. Yesterday is the place that accumulates memories—some good, some bad. It’s where regrets or failures should remain. There is no escaping the fact that second thoughts or disappointments happen, but they are not meant to defeat us—they are to be learning and growing experiences.
Our character is shaped by how we choose to respond to hard lessons forged in those places that test and stretch us. When circumstances grind us or individuals burn us, we are to sally forth enabled by grit and grace—we are to apply each insight, and then move on a bit wiser or tougher.
“Hey tomorrow, I can’t show you nothin’. You’ve seen it all pass by your door. So many times I said I been changin’ then slipped into patterns of what happened before. ‘Cause I’ve been wasted and I’ve over-tasted all the things that life gave to me. And I’ve been trusted, abused and busted and I’ve been taken by those close to me . . .” ~Jim Croce~
Today often gets lost in the urgency of deadlines or commitments. That’s not the way it is supposed to be, but it happens all too often. We don’t really intend to get caught up in the tyranny of the here and now, but unless we are very careful, we do.
Daily tasks can tap us dry without us even being aware of the drain until we run out of gas. We get irritated over nothing or snap at a loved one because our perception was distorted. Sometimes life can wear us down. To simply make it from one sunrise to another takes all our energy.
Tomorrow is where hope resides. It is quite true that the sun always comes out tomorrow, but genuinely authentic hope lies far beyond the dawning of a new day. As Christ-followers we are to be grounded in the eternal. To be truly alive we must always embrace the hope of an eternal tomorrow.
In the midst of a shipload of misfortunes an itinerant preacher and sometime tentmaker named Paul wrote: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
We do not lose hope. To keep our vision fixed on eternity while slugging it out in a fallen world is the central tension of a believer’s life. It is what drives us to dig into God’s Word to weigh it against the corrupt reality of our culture. We look for the gold hidden in the garbage surrounding us.
We can so easily get off the track of what is really important if we do not remain focused on those faith-traditions that serve to point and nudge us away from self-absorption. Yesterday is dead, today is busy—tomorrow has the potential to be different. Take note that tomorrow will be fashioned by our choices today.
“Hey tomorrow you’ve gotta believe that I’m through wastin’ what’s left of me. ‘Cause night is fallin’ and the dawn is callin’, I’ll have a new day if she’ll have me . . .” ~Jim Croce~
Each and every December we have an opportunity to pay homage or lip-service to Advent Season. We go on a kind of pilgrimage that finds completion in our celebration of Christ’s birth. How we choose to mark this annual journey will be distinctive and varied, depending on our personalities and backgrounds.
However, we must understand that our choices have consequences. The patterns we put in place for ourselves and our children will determine what we truly value. We can go with the flow and remain on the treadmill of earthbound concerns, or we can choose to have our faith revived as we behold the supernatural marvel of God becoming man.
Marketers and merchants find cheer in debit and credit cards getting swiped, but deep within us we know that the miracle of Bethlehem has nothing to do with wish lists or mall hopping. Our faith in Christ is supposed to affect our perspective so that we offer a viable alternative to compulsively obsessive consumerism—we ought not be carbon copy cut-outs indistinguishable from culturally accepted norms.
Unfortunately our actions speak much louder than our good intentions or words—the prayers we pray, the homilies we proclaim or the songs we sing too often have little or no impact on our shopping and holiday habits. We can actually avoid becoming enthralled with the search for the perfect bauble or trinket to give-away by remembering that gifts are an expression of love from our hearts. What’s down in the well of our hearts works its way out in our lives. The adventure of Advent should point us to the giver of all good gifts. God gave the first Christmas gift—the baby Jesus was the perfect manifestation of God’s all-consuming love for us.
What better way to commemorate that wonder than by endeavoring to emulate sacrificial love? Pouring our lives into others is an essential prescription for soul maintenance. Our Creator set an example that has far-reaching repercussions. At Bethlehem God humbled himself to lift us up out of the slimy pit of sin and despair. The everlasting Father entered history for the purpose of redeeming creation at Calvary. It’s no wonder that an awe-inspired writer of hymns asked: “How can it be that thou my God shouldst die for me?”
Yesterday, today, tomorrow—does our faith in the One present at the formation of the universe make a difference in our decisions? God the Son was born to die, but not to merely provide us with a get out of hell free card. When we believe in him he sets us free and commissions us to care for others—when we trust Christ we have the promise that an eternal tomorrow will have room for us.