This is officially my “last” weekly article of 2020 here at Into the Harvest. I’m excited because by making space to write fewer articles I’ll be working on a fun Christmas Advent project for you all(you saw it here first!) and I’m pretty pumped to get started. But before we can do that, I want us to finish strong in this space.
And take the time to remind myself of the spiritual lessons the Lord has brought us this year. I suppose this means I can’t make all my 2020 dumpster fire jokes. But instead, I will use restraint and sum up what I believe this year has taught me spiritually.
Lesson #1: Embrace the Change
Let’ all take a moment to remember the children of Israel crying about how much they missed the leeks and garlic of Egypt. Yeah, that didn’t end well for them1. Or Lot's wife looking back at Sodom2. Looking back at what the Lord had brought them out of with regret...yikes. These are dramatic examples, but before we push hard to “return to normal” ASAP, let us, instead, seek the Lord in the changes he has brought us in 2020.
Sure, some of them seemed circumstantial, like not being able to attend church in a building because of the threat of COVID19. But I think it would be a huge mistake to not ask the Lord to show us how He might just use something like that shaking of religious practices to mark the beginning of something new instead of returning to our old routines as soon as it is safe. Let us make sure we’re prayerfully asking the Lord what’s next before we return to what is comfortable.
Lesson #2: Invest Where I’m Planted.
This one is pretty Eclessiastical of me ("There is a time to plant and a time to uproot..."), so bare with me. But during quarantine and even now, I’ve tried to be respectful and keep a distance from strangers who might be more fearful in this season (Besides, it can be hard to talk through a mask sometimes.), but this has left me with some “free space” in ministry. How do I do outreach, now? Surely this will be a dry year ministry wise!?!
But, oddly enough this season has been pretty fruitful in relationships that I had already established, but had maybe neglected because they didn’t seem “fruitful” at the time, or maybe just because I was always “on to the next thing”. Whatever the case, the slowness of this year has allowed me a chance to check back in with some mom friends, connect more deeply with my book club ladies, help out older neighbors a bit more and see just what the Lord has in store for the relationships I’m already in.
I think they call this “long term” ministry? Where you invest deeply in relationships for the long haul! HA! What a concept! But how easily I forget that often we are called to a marathon and not a sprint with the people the Lord has placed in our lives. But here we are, and I’m thankful for this reminder that if the Lord has patience with people, so should I. Let us keep asking the Lord to show us the relationships we might have forgotten to invest in. Who knows who might need to feel the love of Jesus through us this week?
Lesson #3: He is faithful.
I don’t know about you, but in my life there has been a lot of sadness and hardship for those close to me this year. I have seen the endings of dreams, jobs, relationships and even lives this year. At times it has been hard to imagine how we will walk through another hard thing. How will we pick up the pieces and fight another day? And yet, here in October, I am here to report officially that the Lord is good. He is continuing to work, sometimes in the deep and hard places of hearts that can’t yet be seen. But He is at work. Even as I wrote this, a friend in such a hard place sent me the verses found in 2 Corinthians 4:7-113. A beautiful reminder, that the Lord is still using all things for good.
If you are doubting or fearing for tomorrow, remember that He has not failed us yet. If you need the extra encouragement, then take the time to write down the ways the Lord has been faithful to you personally this year. He promised us that He will do a good work, that He won’t stop until it is done: That He will be patient with us, until every ear has a chance to hear The Good News. He promised us that He will come back. And He will. Our God is still faithful. So let us be faithful as we run towards the finish line. Let us end this year as we began it, full of hope for a Lord who is coming back.