"It's dark now--too dark for us to keep working. Let's call it a day, shall we?"
The man could just make out the shape of his older brother moving at the other end of the boat, then turning to face him. His flash of a smile made him more visible in the fog that had settled over the lake that evening, deepening the dusk.
"All right then, you win. Let's haul in the nets."
They made short work of the end-of-the-day process, and headed to shore. When the gear had been secured for the night, the older man asked his brother, "So, do you know what day it is?"
He thought, and realized that it was the year's last day, and that they wouldn't be parting company just yet. They would be together for a few more hours, because they would be honoring their annual tradition of bread and wine and a serious talk, to review the year just passing and ponder what was to come.
During that long conversation, the younger sibling wondered, as always, if the Messiah would be making his appearance during their lifetimes, or if the long-awaited events would take place during the lives of their sons.
Simon replied, with cynicism, "No, Andrew, this will be just another year--no Messiah, no overthrow of the Romans, nothing special. You'll see..."
The thin light of dawn woke her from her equally thin sleep. "Oh--morning now," the woman muttered to herself, as she wrestled, once again, with the idea of facing another day of pain and humiliation.
"Worse yet, it's the new year. Another year has passed by--what is it now? Eighteen years. Long years."
Her face reflected the tempest in her soul, from tears to bitterness and back again. "How can I even think about going on?"
With a heavy sigh, she struggled up from the bed, "up" being into her usual bent over position. She began to move through her routine, slowly at first, because of the stiffness that always accompanied her first hour or so of wakefulness in the mornings.
She scanned the floor for her clothing and sandals, and for her cane, much despised, yet so necessary. Without it, the possibility of tipping over face first into the ground was just too real, too much of a threat to her already battered body.
Her own question to herself, "How can I go on?," echoed and ricocheted around in her mind for the entire morning. Her thoughts in recent days had turned more and more toward suicide, because the prospect of shuffling through years or decades more of this twisted, lonely ruin of a life was not appealing.
So, she wondered: if life was to be just this, or worse, was it even worth it?
She prayed aloud, "Will this be just another year? Of this? Jehovah, give me strength to live, or the courage to die!"
Saul reviewed tomorrow's "to do" list, stopping at the most important thing, underlined twice:
See the Chief Priest--Letters to the Damascus synagogues
He thought, "I haven't been there yet, but I'd wager those troublemaker followers of 'The Way' have been, and have begun, even there, to corrupt our ancient religion. When they're back in Jerusalem, being 'questioned,' they'll see things in a new light, oh yes, in an ENTIRELY new light.
"You would think that a good stoning might have thrown some sense into them, at least into some of them, but no! They are so stubborn! That makes my work all that much more important. No, urgent. It's absolutely urgent that we stamp out this perversion of our beliefs, and wipe it from the face of the earth completely! This struggle has already gone on long enough, and I don't want the leadership in all of the cities of Israel to begin to think that it can't be done, and that this will be 'just another year' in an ongoing and hopeless effort. No, oh, no: this will certainly not be 'just another year,' not if I can help it!"
And then, all of these people had an encounter with Jesus.
As you open a new calendar to the first page, do you think about your problems, fears, and struggles, and think it will be "just another year" of carrying them, all alone?
Seek out an encounter with Jesus. You'll see, then, that this one won't be...
"...just another year."
This year can be different.
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