During a conversation with my father several years ago about the many new realities in 21st century culture and his grave concerns over their impact on our country and his grandchildren’s’ futures, I asked him what his single biggest hope was. Without hesitation he replied, “My only real hope is to see all of my children and grandchildren with me in heaven.” At first, this struck me as something I would expect to hear my dad say; he is a man of faith, a man who actually does read his Bible every day and cares for all those around him unconditionally. But over the last few years, I’ve realized that it is also an important place to startat the end.

Throughout my college years, most every professor said that it was important that we knew what our short-term, mid-term and long-term goals were. That we make a practice of writing them down at least once a year, or someday we would wake up and realize we had dreams that we did not see come true.

I remember the day I saw one of my “five-year goals” for my career come true. I had written that I wanted to be a manager of a team before I had my first child. And about one month into my first pregnancy, I was promoted to a manager of five people. While I just made it by the skin of my teeth, I had to work to position and prepare myself to be ready for this first big career achievement.

As 2015 comes to a close, many of us will begin the New Year thinking about and writing down our goals for the year ahead.

The sad news isjust because we have named our hopes and dreams at the beginning, we will do little to exercise our hearts, minds, body and soul to see the outcome come to fruition. Is it because we are flawed sinners who can’t keep our focus? Or is it because our hopes are too short-term, too temporal, too selfish?

With two of my three sister-in-laws and a lifelong family friend losing a beloved parent this year, I see how a very difficult point in every life journey is made just a tiny bit more bearable when you know that life will go on in eternity with all the saints in heaven. The hope of being reunited together with everyone I love in life everlasting seems far more important than whether or not I finally achieve my goal weight, my financial goals or anything else that is just about me. This hope, this long-term goal, is big enough to guide my life in its impact on others.

So I too have chosen to share my father’s greatest hope as the same hope for my own life. I have chosen to be an instrument of God’s great grace. I have chosen to start at the end; because I believe that end is really the true beginning.

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