As I sit just a few days from our forever farewell, I want to take a moment or two to express my heartfelt sentiments about our time together. The quandary? Where do I begin? I guess I can begin at the beginning when our nation was reveling in this beautiful marketing moment of casting vision, seeing things vividly, and clarifying our sight. Yes, 20/20 was eye-opening, alright, but not at all in the way we envisioned on January 1.
We charged full-throttle into this new year with great boasts of “expecting the unprecedented”. Ironically, those were the very words we personally felt the Holy Spirit speaking to Chresten and I when we asked Him what to declare over this new year. Expect the unprecedented. It seemed simple and exciting enough. Yes, we want God to move in an unprecedented way! We do want to see unprecedented signs, wonders, and miracles! We are looking for unprecedented wisdom and keys to winning more souls for the Kingdom of Christ! Yes, Lord–we are expecting the unprecedented.
And we experienced unprecedented spiritual hunger this year. It was just beginning to froth to a heightened level as the calendar flipped over to the month of March 2020. Things began to look a little fishy as you threw us a curveball this generation hasn’t experienced in quite some time. Worldwide, we just froze. What do we do now? How long will this last? And where’s all the toilet paper?
No offense, but I’ve repeatedly referred to 2020 as “the weirdest year ever”.
It’s been the longest and shortest series of months I have ever known. In so many ways, the time warp has felt like an inexplicable dream/nightmare from which I can’t quite awaken. And while there are plenty of blurry details I cannot adequately outline, there are a few beautiful takeaways I want to give you credit for.
First, I think our nation owes you for a mega wake-up call. Spiritually speaking, there is no denying that the Church at large has been quite drowsy. Christian music artist Keith Green was ahead of his time when he described us as being “asleep in the Light“. (BTW, I can’t imagine what Keith would be saying this year, had he remained on this planet.) Countless times this year I’ve pondered the very fact that there is no place to hide in this mess, despite the drive to isolate and hide out until the pandemic is all over. What was beneath the surface in our lives, individually and corporately, has risen to the top and can no longer be hidden. Where there was lazy Christianity and apathy, there is a clear line that has been crossed. And I’m not just talking about attending a service inside the church’s four walls versus watching online. The Church is indeed more than a building, but where does She shine the brightest? Is the Church shining brightly even when She’s challenged or pressed? This is a clarion call for saints to grow up and step up and for the Church to embody Her mission: to reach the lost, broken, and hurting. We realize that there will be many who will step up and a lot more who will shrink back. 2020, you have made it clear–the Church has a lot more work to do and a stamina to develop.
Second, there were some really amazing moments for us as a family. While we inevitably went several months without the opportunity to travel and minister (which led to several months without income), we relished in the fact that we were together, all four of us, more days this year than we have been for many, many years. The times to laugh together, play together, pray together, and read God’s Word together are ones we will treasure for a lifetime. The dialog we shared with our daughters, walking them through one disappointment after another, helped us give them real-life training on how to focus on the faithfulness and provision of God like never before. Our girls saw God do what He does best, day after day, which is comfort the hurting, provide right on time, and steady us when we are uncertain of what the next day will bring. Trusting in Jesus together forged a new level of trust between us that we hope to maintain long beyond December 31.
Finally, there are plenty of things in our daily lives that we took for granted before we met you, 2020. We’ve only heard our grandparents talk of the types of shortages our nation experienced this year. Walking through a grocery store and wondering how you’re supposed to stock your own pantry when you can’t even gather a few staple items is an experience that has been, gratefully, foreign to our generation. We had to get creative and determine: we are not going to panic. We are going to trust in our faithful God who provides rivers in the desert and manna from the heavens. We are determined to stand upon the Truth of His Word, rather than the facts we see about us, that God is just as victorious in famine as He is in the time of plenty. We have been reminded that, while it has always been true, we are only given one day at a time. We are never promised tomorrow. And we can’t worry about that. We must let tomorrow worry about itself and trust God big for today.
2020, while it’s not breaking my heart to close out our time together and replace that last ‘0’ with a ‘1’, inevitably all your antics and their residual effects in our lives will go with us from this point forward. But we made it. We are still here. We’ve grieved. We’ve cried. We’ve loved and we’ve lost. But we’ve also rejoiced as we saw the kindness of strangers and friends alike, even if it was from behind a facial mask. And next year? Well, it will bring with it its own victories and setbacks. Because of you, we will be all the more prepared, determined to finish this life’s race and make it Home, taking as many people as we can with us.
Farewell, 2020. It’s been real.