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    by Melissa Mathews

The End and The Beginning
Date Posted: January 10, 2010


There’s something about the end that makes one look forward to the beginning-- maybe because the end, even a good end, is often difficult.

As I sat at my desk Friday afternoon, the Friday before Christmas and the last day of the semester, I stared at my computer screen hoping to get all my grades entered by the 3:30 deadline. I was at the end of a mental marathon: I had collected a stack of research papers, spent a week studying for a test, spent a whole Saturday taking the test, spent 30 hours (outside of class time) grading the research papers, handed back the research papers to wails and moans at the horrible grades, created a final exam, given a final exam, and now sat entering the result of all that in the grade book. The arms of my brain were pumping but my lack of time helped me focus on the finish line. As if in slow motion, I got my grades entered, printed, and delivered to the office at 3:35 (so close!).

If only I had been finished with Christmas as well, but alas, there was so much to do! I had shopping, and wrapping, and cooking, and company coming. There were cinnamon rolls to bake, and church services to attend. And then there was even more wrapping.

But it finally came--Christmas—the celebration of Jesus’ birth, and what always feels like the end of the year. It came this year like it has come for many years. At the end of the rush and the hurry and oftentimes the pain and melancholy, there is Jesus. It seems no coincidence to me that we celebrate Jesus’ birth five days after the winter solstice when the days have more darkness than light.

And so Jesus often comes into people’s lives when the days are darkest, when life seems busy and stressful and impossible. A tiny baby shows up making the unbearable possible and the desperate situation hopeful. Matthew records:

“[Mary] will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins…and they will call him Immanuel—which means God with us” (1:21-23).

And when hope shows up, when the end comes and Jesus is there, we feel like beginning again. We have hope that tomorrow will be better, that God can bring us through financial hardship, or physical problems, or bad relationships. When Christmas is over, we have hope that next year we can reconcile with a loved one or be a better money manager, or make progress on that character flaw.

The apostle John, in his vision of heaven, writes even more clearly about the beginning and the end:

He who was seated on the throne said,
"I am making everything new!"
Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
[Jesus] said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life.

He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son [or daughter]" (Revelation 21:5-7).

There is something about the end – of the year, of the job, of the stress, of the pain, of the struggle- that leads us to Jesus. If you are at your end, let me introduce you to the Beginning. There’s something about the end that makes one look forward to the Beginning.

Originally posted on 12/30/2007

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Biography Information:
I'm a preacher's kid, pastor's wife, and southern belle who married a Southern California boy. Can you say 'culture clash?' Scott and I have four boys - Max, Mark, Jackson, and Grant who keep us busy with homework and sports.

Scott and I have been married 22 years and currently live in Northern California where we are beginning year five as church planters. I also teach 12th grade English and love it.

I would love to hear from you. Email me anytime at melissa.g.mathews@gmail.com
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