In the NFL, the last week of the season brings a couple different scenarios: Your team is either looking to finish on a high note with a win or they’re battling for their playoff lives. Either way, everyone is looking forward to the next “season.” Be it the playoff season and a push toward the Lombardi Trophy or the promise of next season, there is hope to be found in each. In any case, we hope. We hope for hope’s sake. With the dawning of a new year on the horizon, let’s take a closer look into what this notion of Hope really is.
I’ve recently heard hope defined as always having an object and always carrying expectations. For instance, a 16 year old boy or girl hopes for a car on their birthday. The object is the car and the expectation is that the car will give them new freedom, new status, perhaps new popularity or even a new identity. In the football world, we hope for the playoffs. The object is always that Championship Ring and the expectation is that it will bring fulfillment, a capping off of a career, a new contract, perhaps new notoriety or even a new identity. Both examples point to the notion that we expect great things from the objects that we place our hope in. The question then becomes, are these objects capable of fulfilling what we are hoping for?
Growing up a die-hard Denver Bronco fan, I can vividly remember crying all alone on the sidewalk after suffering through another Super Bowl defeat. Imagine a chubby 7 year old in an Elway jersey that barely fit, just sobbing in front of his house… what a sight. Several years later, it was a very different scene at my house when Terrell Davis capped of a dramatic game winning drive and the Broncos had finally won it all! I remember being thrilled, so proud, so excited and so relieved. I had hoped to see this day come to fruition and it finally had. The only problem was that it didn’t last. The Broncos won the Super Bowl again the following year and it lacked the same thrill. In fact my fan-hood slowly dwindled from that point forward. I expected that by my team winning it all, it would somehow validate my choice to suffer for years, vindicate my pride and pay me back for my support. But no check came in the mail. No thank you note from Pat Bowlen or John Elway. Even my friends at school shrugged off my boasts about what my team had done. In short, my hope was not fulfilled.
Entering a new year, I think it’s a great idea to take inventory. What needs to be changed or adjusted? What will you do differently? Let me challenge you with this message. Take a hard look at the things you hope for: A new job, a promotion, a new relationship, a new sports season. What is the object of your hope? Money, status, validation, love from a man/woman? What do you expect from these objects? And ultimately, can they REALLY deliver? Cars for 16 year olds and Super Bowl rings for ball players are great, but they both get old. They both get worn and rusty. The fulfillment they bring fades over time. Hope misplaced is no hope at all. It’s false. It’s temporary. It’s like grasping at the wind.
So is there such a thing as true hope? I believe so. Imagine an object that can not only fulfill but exceed all your expectations. One that has the power over life and death. One that loves and guides. One that never fades. It’s not in a Pastor, Preacher, or a special Church Building. Rather it’s found in Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. If you’ve never placed your hope in Him, maybe this new year is the time. Happy New Year everyone!
Duke Preston is a former NFL Lineman, son of a nine year NFL veteran, public school and Big 10 university educated, husband and father of one, and a Christian man; that really sums up the perspective from which I write. I was raised in a household where SportsCenter was on TV more often than Sesame Street and my classroom for life was always an athletic field. Therefore, trading in a playbook and a helmet for some textbooks and a Bible has been an interesting shift. For more about Duke click here.
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