2020 has been named many things by many people. It has been an astonishing year, indeed. Someday we will look back upon it and remember the wonder of how God stilled the whole world, halted all our plans and rearranged all our priorities. If we let it, this year could speak some deep and transforming things into our human, hurried hearts.
As we approach the end of what we wish we had never experienced, with still so much unknown and beyond our control, it is important how we position our souls before walking away. Embracing the new never yields the joy it should without truly examining and gleaning what we ought to from the old. So today I want to share a few thoughts about saying goodbye to 2020 and preparing for 2021. I hope they will encourage you to spend some time sifting through your experience and opinions with God. Afterall, He is the final and true judge of all things.
As I sit with God, I am more and more convinced that there is gold to be mined from the year behind us, just as in every other season of life. If we know God – I mean truly know His heart – this will be a settled conviction in our spirits no matter how long and dark a season may be. But if we merely know about God – more academically (second-hand) than intimately (first-hand) – then we will have trouble believing it’s worth the work to dig for the nuggets that lace the trail of deep adversity we are tempted to just move forward from.
I watched the Nativity Story over the Christmas holiday, and the journey of the wise men caught my attention. Their trip to see a long-awaited prophetic event unfold was neither comfortable nor convenient. They could have chosen to be content with discovering the event in their living room, and stayed home to hear about it from someone else. But the treasure was too great not to behold for themselves. There was a great cost to them, but I imagine that, for years to come – if not for the rest of their lives – they marveled and celebrated their choice to go. It would have looked and felt different in later years if they had not made the effort to examine the historical event for themselves. Their story is included in the account of the birth of Jesus because it depicts both the great wisdom and reward of looking deeper into the things which God allows to grace our lives.
We, too, have a choice about what we do with 2020: we can move on and forget what we have witnessed and experienced, or we can sift through it with God, and get up close and personal with the gifts He intended for us to personally retrieve from it.
I learn a lot from Job’s story, every time I read it. Recently, I’ve been learning about the depths of his disappointments and losses. Not just by reading about them, but by imagining them for myself, and by remembering what my own deep and tragic losses have felt like. Something I read today confronted me and provoked me to do some more mining with God. Job was able to accept loss from God, that God had the right to both give and take from Job. But Job had chosen to live the kind of life that he believed would result in blessing. He chose to avoid trouble and the things that make for it. He pursued God, and believed God, and trusted that God would be a hedge around him and his life and his family. But that hedge collapsed and became a valley of deep trouble with little evidence of God’s presence and power to help him.
In Job chapter 3, after Job chooses to worship God in the face of the worst tragedies he could ever imagine living through, he laments and questions what he has experienced. It likely wasn’t, however, Job’s physical losses that were lamented. Rather, it is suggested by some that Job lamented the shattering of his theology. His faith had been shaken to its core. What he believed, he could no longer believe, and that left him with more questions than answers, and with confusion that weighed more than his sorrows.
For many of us, 2020 holds out a sifting pan with which we are invited to examine our own shattered beliefs. It might not be pretty, but to walk away without discovering the truths hiding beneath the sorrows and the shaken hopes would be to leave treasure buried that you will likely need in the seasons ahead.
God’s revelation is progressive. It builds upon each truth that is grasped and embraced. Through encounters with hearts that truly seek Him – not just what He can give or do – He reveals Himself a little at a time. Season by Season. To transition seasons with apprehending a more intimate knowledge of God – without braving the darkness and seeking to discover the treasures hidden there – would be to waste what He so lovingly purposed within it.
For those who merely survive and attempt to run ahead into what seems more promising, the glance backward only paves the road of doubt that leads so many hearts to wander astray. But for those who are willing to sift through the ashes of devastation and disappointment – to get honest with God and listen for His wisdom and truth in the middle of it all – the glance backward paves the road with faith that has become like shining gold. Gold refined in the fire that God was with us in the midst of.
Dear Womand of Breakthrough, if we’ve learned anything this year, what is it? If you don’t confidently know, and if it doesn’t glorify the God Who promises to work ALL things for our good, according to His good and perfect will, then I urge you to spend the next few days sifting through the soil of 2020. For the seeking heart, determined to see God’s best and highest intentions, we are sure to discover real treasure.
Whatever 2021 holds, I have a feeling that the gold we mine from 2020 will be part of the ground upon which we must travel to get there. So as you’re cleaning up the party messes and preparing your heart and home for a new season, make room for reckoning with God. Lay down the opinions you’ve picked up from those who don’t believe and cannot see His goodness in the midst of adversity. Surrender the judgments you’ve made in your own frustration and pain. Ask God to help you discover and behold the glory tucked into your devastated year, and ask Him to open your eyes to truly see and know Him.
I declare the blessings God intended over 2020 will become manifest as you seek His wisdom and understanding for your times and seasons. I declare that nothing will be lost of that which He intended for you to gain, and that you will grow to cherish that which others may only disdain, because you will have seen His glory working in and through it.
He alone is God, and He is always good. May you believe, and therefore see.
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