What do you think? Do I leave the year behind, rush headlong into an uncertain future, or ponder the past and see how it applies. Like so many of us, year 2020 has switched up my perspective. It is the year when it fell apart. When things didn’t work out as planned.
15 My son, if your heart is wise,
my heart also will rejoice;
16 And my inmost being will exult,
when your lips speak what is right.
17 Do not let your heart envy sinners,
but only those who always fear the Lord;
18 For you will surely have a future,
and your hope will not be cut off.
[Proverbs 23:15-18 NABRE]
I pray this passage encourages you as it did me. My memories of New Year’s past are full of promise and plans. Until I was a teen, it was all about a last party before we returned to school for the winter session. We watched the parades while the adults talked and partied. People made predictions and resolutions. The dozen cousins ran and played to our hearts’ content until it was time to ring in 12:01 am. Then collapse into our sleeping bags or cots.
When I was older, I met the New Year with anticipation. As a teen, I joined the adults in trying to predict the year ahead, make resolutions, and party with the dozen cousins as we counted down to a New Year. My plans centered on leaving the old year behind and blazing a new path.
Somewhere in my forties the resolutions became goals. I have to say the only reason I was up for the ball drop was the neighbor’s fireworks. But leaving behind the old and moving on to the new was always the plan. Some years it worked, and some it did not.
I’ll admit, this year thinking about 2020 got me down. The year was exhausting, filled with fear, fraud, and loss. In my prayers for 2021, I am reminded that we gain experience when we walk through the trouble. That experience gives us knowledge to use in the future. The past year is bleeding into this year. The path ahead is uncertain and shrouded in darkness. For the first time in my life, I cannot leave the old year in the dust.
Think about it, year 2020 has given us a chance to gain experience we can use in the future. We have handled things we have never handled before in our lives. We handled these things to the best of our ability. I’m not saying what happened in 2020 has never happened before because history tells us it has happened. Pandemics, epidemics, riots, war, famine, floods, scandals, and massive losses are not new.
Look at history from the real folks on the ground, not textbooks. For example, if you want to know what happened in World War II Holland, check out one of my favorites, The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. What we find is what really happened in their own words or the words of those living the horrors with them. They tell you what can happen again. We can gain from others’ experiences in first account history by asking a few questions. How did they keep going? Who helped them? What was the right thing to do? How did they survive? And how will I handle my situation?
Christians also have another resource. It is a powerful tool, and it is not a secret. God has given us instruction manual based on real-life experiences. This is what the Holy Bible is, a book of insights, actual life history, and outcomes. The Word of God tell us what people like you and I did in the good times and the tough times. It explains where they went wrong and what they did right. Example after example encourages me when I read God’s plans for us. If I dare to dive deep, I can find out why I get into so much trouble! I can also find the wisdom and knowledge I need in my life.
The next step for me is to glean the knowledge from 2020 experiences, history from recent and long past, and study spiritual experience in the Holy Words of God. As I walk gingerly into a path obscured in darkness, I apply this experience to my day. Right now, I am blinded by frustrating delays and painful splits in family and friends. I must depend on my Lord to guide me this year where my eyes cannot clearly see.
My plans have changed. I thought I would move to the mountains in 2021. That is not happening. It looks like I cannot retire this year or maybe even the next… Yes, a few years ago, God gave me a promise in a verse, Jeremiah 29:11:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” [NIV]
Dreams delayed doesn’t mean the promise is over. It means I must search, trust and reach God’s timing, not mine.
Dear Father, guide us into this new calendar year, trusting you day by day to find our way along this journey. Help us remember and learn from history, experience, and most importantly, your Holy Words. Then help us use this knowledge to live as we ought to Glorify You. In Jesus’ name; amen. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; amen.
May God provide many blessings and adventures for you this year, my friends,