I hope you’ve had a week that’s been wonderfully free of hustle. Unfortunately, I’ve been running around like a chicken, but I’m optimistic that as of an hour ago, I’m done. I’m closing out the year with a leisurely ten days, savoring time with my family and anticipating celebrating the greatest gift ever given.
I’ve never been a huge fan of Hemingway. I mean I can appreciate his gift without longing to read him. But 2018 has held some surprises, good and bad. I’ve faced some things I never thought I would, and yet I’ve had good surprises, too. Oddly, I’ve been a religious user of my treadmill since October. I’m obsessed with it. And guess what? I love running a quick mile or doing HIIT on it. You’d have to know me to fathom how unlikely this is.
Another 2018 shocker is that two Hemingway quotes have been running through my mind on repeat. The first is this:”Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.” Indeed, every true story ends in death. It’s a sobering truth. I’ve realized in 2018, more than ever that avoidance of this simplest of facts is pitiful and destructive. I am praying tonight that anyone and everyone who reads this will realize that their own true story ends in death. And I pray that that doesn’t scare you in the least, but instead reminds you of where you are going.
The other Hemingway quote that’s recently been on a nearly continuous loop is from The Sun Also Rises. It’s actually the closing line, maybe you remember it? Jake Barnes, the narrator of the story, says, “Yes, isn’t it pretty to think so?”
Barnes is condescendingly affirming the absurdly optimistic musings of Brett, his would-be leading lady, who says, “we could have had such a damned good time together.” The writing is pretty great.
But “isn’t it pretty to think so” has become my unstated reaction to others’ expressions of hope that seem disconnected from reality. Despite some hard things this year, I’m not jaded nor down. But I do know where my hope comes from — it comes from Christ alone. Window dressing or empty building up has never felt so cheap, so downright discouraging.
But here is the unbelievably wonderful news of the season: God delights in you “as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son–it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.” (C.S. Lewis). Does your story end in death? Yes. Are thoughts of eternity spent with an All-Loving Creator mere pretty thoughts? No! No! A million times “No!”
May we all know the truth of this verse tonight and always:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
With Love and Merry Christmas,