New Year Resolution 2016

Many face the prospect of a new 2016 with some degree of grim and uncertainty. You see a flurry of greetings and well wishes filling the pages of FB/Whatsapp/Twitter etc...yet I could not help but sense a hidden ambivalence. That most of us are just clinging onto that glimmer of hope: that all will be (hopefully) well in the year ahead. For me, in retrospect, I am learning to be thankful for 2015 and all that it has brought. No matter how unpleasant and insurmountable some of those odds were; Even then, we had conjured up much 'foolhardiness or grit' and endured them like a good soldier. And let's not forget that it is the all essential Grace of God that sustaineth. Yet, despite that, I can't say that all is well. For these life lessons have inadvertently wrought a sense of guarded optimism in me. You may have won the battle. But invariably, there are the scars left behind...

It's a given. With such political unrest and economical turmoil, not just in this country but worldwide, everyone's looking for a new hope. There is nothing wrong looking forward to a new year. We all cope in our own ways. But lest we become deluded, such attempts to find solace in the thought that a new year promises a new beginning is misguided. You see, the theory of chaos is very compelling. And even the Bible supports that to some degree because of sin and a fallen world that we live in. What 2016 promises will be no more that what 2015 promised exactly a year ago. Yet, it didn't stop us from hoping and making that New Year Resolution....

But what is Hope anyway? Hope has to be in something that is solid and unshakable. For me, it is Christ, our hope of glory. Why hope in something that will shift and change like the weather? Something so unpredictable like the rise and fall of the stock market? If we are honest to ourselves, isn't it merely a convenient notion to wish away such a thing as "New year = New hope"? Rather, we need to challenge ourselves and ask: What hope do I really have? Do I hope in my own achievements and abilities? My financial prowess? The comfort of my possessions? And the love of my dear ones? Is there really security in any of these?

Therefore, looking towards 2016, I would rather rephrase it as: The hope of Christ in us is a certainty for year 2016, therefore I have hope for 2016. After all, His coming changed the course of history. Before that, there was no hope. As surely as the sun rises from the east and sets in the west. But now, there is hope because he came to take away the sin of the world. That changes everything. For by His redemption, He restores us to that hope of glory.

So this blog has become a theological argument? No, I am just realigning my thoughts. You are welcome to take it or leave it. Especially if you don't subscribe to the belief that Jesus is Lord. This is my personal conviction. It is the way I understand hope. Be it for 2016 or beyond.

What has this got to do with a running blog though? Well, a lot actually.

Because my hope is in Christ, and as I increasingly make this a matter of the heart rather than merely head knowledge, I have more reasons to rejoice because running takes on a new meaning. Previously, I would be concerned that others would outperform me. I call that my competitive edge. But truth be told, it is an insecurity, a disease that can eat you up and drive you to destruction. You see, it can consume you and make you a slave to your own quest to constantly outdo your PB. Outwardly, people would not see that of course. In fact they would rally behind you and say, what is wrong with improving your own PB? But inwardly, you would know what drives you. You can say that "I am not competing with anyone else!" or "I am merely pushing my envelope!" But you know what really drives you. Because of the times when you felt guilty or frustrated for not making that training session that you planned. Or the disappointment that devastated you when you did not achieve that target time you aspire for. Or somehow you get flustered when someone outperform you in some totally unrelated race. You wonder why you are so petty and not more 'gentlemanly'. Ranking is important to you. Timing is everything to you. And getting that acknowledgement is all that you seek. But of course, on the surface, you call this being 'passionate about running'. We all need to get beyond our masquerades and get real with ourselves. We need to face our demons. Or else we will drive ourselves nuts! I suspect that is why some people would coin that description about us runners. There is some truth in it, isn't there?

It is changing that mindset and more importantly, the condition of the heart that makes everything else, including running, more exciting. And a well placed hope in Christ does that. At least, for me. For starts, you get less bogged down by the issues described above. It is not to say that you should forget about training and still aim to do a PB. That will just be moronic. Nor should you lose that competitive edge and become 'indifferent' about your progress. Then, why train or why run when there is no prospect of ever improving? We train our bodies, mind and spirit, to be better selves. And I think God would take delight in that. But the point is, we do it all for the wrong reasons. That is what upsets the Plan. And it ends up hurting ourselves in the long run. A rightly grounded hope places us in the position to say: Hey, I am secure. My hope is unshakable. Nothing can take that hope away. Therefore I do not fear. I don't have to fear that others can be better than me. There are always higher mountains. I don't have to be bothered that my training may be interrupted because of life and other commitments. Because running isn't really everything and my identity does not depend on it. I have hope that by the grace of God, I can improve and be a better runner but I don't have to be a jerk to get there. I don't have to prove myself by taking on super feats just to make a point about my invincibility. In Christ I am already invincible.

You see. That kind of hope grants you security, and it gives you the will to not only survive but to thrive and excel.

In 2 weeks, I would be racing in SCHKM, for the umpteen times....But the truth is, this would perhaps be the most 'under-prepared' SCHKM of all. With the recent move to JB, in the past two months, running and training has inevitably been scaled down to a bare minimum due to work and life commitments. I was of course worried. But as I pondered on the things that I said earlier, I was finally at peace with myself. It is undeniable and a rock solid fact that my hope is in Christ alone. And running is not everything. I would still run my 'rear side' off for that race of course. You can be assured of that. I will give it all I've got. But the difference is, this time, I will be running under a new banner => Christ: My Hope of Glory.

Have a hope-filled 2016!!!


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