We began 2020 with our customary forty days of prayer and an emphasis on vision. The goal was to begin the year with a deeper look at God and ourselves. Such reflection should lead us to a greater appreciation of our Creator, the Savior and our dependence on Him. What we did not anticipate is what the next twelve months would hold. It provided a dramatic backdrop to bring everything more sharply into focus.
The headline of the year might be shared with the pandemic and the racial unrest that spread across our country. Both opened our eyes in different ways. We saw the need for a foundation that is not shaken by the events that are beyond our control. None of us could have stopped either. We have helplessly watched as covid-19 marched relentlessly around the world. Anger swept through the streets of Minneapolis and subsequent events spread the fury. We watched and could not stop it. They reminded us of just how powerless we are in the grand scheme of things.
We stayed home and wore masks when we finally did cautiously venture out. Worship stopped temporarily as we pondered how to handle that which we could not see, control or understand. Zoom offered a temporary solution, followed by outdoor services and finally the move back inside with limitations. The fellowship that we had always taken for granted was no longer worry-free. It was certainly an eye-opening time.
Tensions rose with several tragic events involving police. The air was racially charged. Cynical eyes studied those of the other race, whoever they were. Skin color came front and center as the entire country seemed to explode. Marches degenerated into riots and cities burned. People created in the image of God battled other people created in the image of God, and our eyes were forced open a little wider.
Twenty centuries ago, Jesus told His disciples that this world was a troublesome place (John 16:33). Yet, we are surprised when we see the evidence of just how true that is. He came on a mission of mercy and met with rejection, hostility and ultimately crucifixion. He offered the greatest possible gift, and people killed the giver. It is little wonder that we have the mess that we do.
2020 is almost over, and it is doubtful that anyone is sorry to see it go. It has been a unique year, but has it opened our eyes? Improved vision sees life for the gift that it is, one that is not to be squandered but embraced. Illness and death can take it suddenly. Relationships are based on the character of individuals not on their race or occupation. Jesus summed it up rather simply: Love God and love your neighbor. Those are principles that are not dependent on how others behave but on who we are. That is where we need to look first.