We had no idea this time last year what a crazy, difficult, tragic year 2020 would turn out to be, and now as we stand on the brink of a new year, we can only hope in faith that the coming months will bring good-ness, peace and healing to wash away the harsh memories of the year gone by.
As someone who likes to plan ahead and organize my life as neatly and predictably as possible, it’s hard to accept that we don’t know what the future holds. Fortunately, most days and years tend to run together in a steady flow of orderliness. Sure, there are ups and downs, little blips on the radar that surprise or disrupt, but for most of our lives, things roll along in regular, reliable fashion.
Until they don’t, like we learned in 2020.
I have always struggled with James 4:13-17, where we are admonished not to make plans for the future with arrogant confidence. I like making plans. I find comfort in figuring out when to do what and what should come next. But James reminds us that we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, therefore we shouldn’t boast about our schemes and strategies. Instead, we should say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
That’s good advice and wise council. It’s Biblical truth that we should follow, even if we chafe at the notion that we can’t know or control the future. It takes humility and a submissive heart to trust our plans for the future to God’s will.
I would like to proclaim that by Easter our ministries will all be back to normal, with everyone feeling good about gathering in large groups and sharing close fellowship like we did before the pandemic. I would like to make plans for the summer and fall like we did in 2019 and every year before that, choosing dates for special events and important programs.
In the same way, we would all like to schedule visits with family or trips to favorite vacation spots. We would like to make reservations and mark dates on our calendars for celebrations, especially those we have put off for many months.
In one way, we need to embrace the hope that life will soon return to normal, trusting we will be able to resume our church and family traditions in the coming year. We need that hope; it’s good for our hearts.
In another way, though, we need to remember the wisdom of James and submit our plans to God’s will. We couldn’t have predicted what 2020 would bring, and the same goes for 2021 and beyond. We can pray for a better year ahead. We can be optimistic about the future, but we shouldn’t presume that we know what to-morrow will bring.
It takes real faith to say, “If it is the Lord’s will…” and to trust that God is going to lead us through whatever comes next. So, let’s pray for a good year, for healing and peace in our nation, for God’s blessing over His church, and for His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
With this in mind, our worship service on January 10 will feature a special time of prayer, when we will lift up our church, our community and our world in the New Year. If it is the Lord’s will, I hope you will join us for this prayer service in-person or online.