When do we become old enough to scan the obituary pages each day? My mother has taken to notifying my siblings and myself of pertinent deaths in our hometown. I’m afraid I may be crossing the threshold where this is expected behavior.
I was speaking with a man outside the local grocery store yesterday. I asked what his hopes were for 2019. His response: I just want to hang in there. I asked if he was OK as there were no obvious physical ailments, and his next response: it just beats the alternative.
I used to make resolutions for the coming year, mostly resolutions about which sins I would no longer commit, but resolutions are useless. Have you ever noticed how many people are content just to hang on? Have you noticed how many of us fall into the rut of checking the obituary notices and hanging in there? I’ve started writing down my hope for the coming year instead of making resolutions. Hope is a much better word. Resolutions put the onus on ourselves. Hope has no guarantee, except the hope we have in Christ. Hopes may or may not come to fruition, and in the cases where they don’t, well, at least we will have hung in there. Hope, for all its vagueness, stirs us out of our well worn ruts and fixes our eyes on something other than ourselves.
Now that I’ve pontificated for 250 words about obit pages, friends, and hope, what are my hopes for 2019?
- Let’s start with a serious hope: I hope the SBC can make it through the year without one of our leaders stepping because their behavior has disqualified them from leadership. We had enough of that in 2018.
- I hope the Lottie Moon and Annie Armstrong offerings continue to set records. It seems the churches are becoming more committed to missions funding. This is fantastic because our hallmark as a denomination is our missions organizations.
- I hope there are more serious conversations about including women and minorities in the leadership ranks of the SBC. We have entity leadership jobs a plenty. This is our best chance to show we’re committed to diversity. We may not get this many opportunities again.
- I hope the year is relatively quiet in the SBC. We’re due for a quiet, uneventful year.
- I hope President Trump resigns. There, I wrote it. Think about that for a second. I heard a conversation last year that went something like this: “I hope President trump gets impeached because then Hillary Clinton will get to be President.” Yes, that was overheard in Dollar General. Ok, back to reality. If President trump resigns, we get President Pence, and President Pence would be liberals’ worst nightmare, and, succession laws being what they are, if President trump resigns after January 20th, President Pence could serve out the remainder of his term and two full terms of his own. That would be 10 years of President Pence.
- I hope Vice President Pence does not show up in Birmingham. I get giddy thinking about his possible presidency, but dude, please stay away from Birmingham. We’re good. Send a video.
- I hope I can muster up the courage to ask for William Thornton’s autograph. I failed last year.
- I hope I get to baptize more than one person. I’ve pastored six years and have always baptized one person. God has been good that way, and in a few weeks I’ll get to baptize my daughter. God has been double good. I love baptizing and I hope to get to do it more often this year.
- I hope I can keep my desk cleaned off. Seriously, it’s a mess.
- I hope I know God better by this time next year. My message to our congregation this past Sunday was: Are you closer to God than you were at this time last year? If not, what are you going to do about it? I’ll ask you guys the same question: Are you closer to God today than you were in 2018?
None of our hopes matter if we don’t know grow closer to God. I hope you all grow closer to God this year. And, if you know how old I have to be to start checking the obit column each day, please, clue me in.