Most people started the year by capitalizing on the novelty and nuances that came along with its introduction. Witty sayings emerged, even within the Church, like: Gospel Focus, Remain Focused, Keep Your Eyes On Jesus, 2020 Bible Vision, Focus 2020 – and here’s a good one, 2020 Vision. Nevertheless, it seemed that the Church had less than stellar vision.
We did, and still are, painfully stumbling through how we should lead and do “church” with COVID-19 looming over our shoulders. We still are trying to limp and see our way through racial and cultural tensions that will seemingly linger longer on this side of Heaven until an eternal cure is administered within the hearts of God’s people. And it is evident that we won’t experience healing in our land until we see and bow before Jesus the Christ as King and Ruler over heaven and over the earth.
My humble opinion is, as the old folks would say it, we the Church in 2020 were taken to class. You see, we all, for the most part, entered the 2020 classroom of life thinking we knew just what life, church, work, college, school and family should look like. But it quickly became abundantly clear that we didn’t read the syllabus, didn’t study for the exam, didn’t see what was written on the board, or we just were not willing to follow the teacher’s instructions.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I do not know where I am going in life – even if I have been there before (Proverbs 14:12). Personally, 2020 confirmed this all the more in my life. I thought I knew the assignment. I thought I could see what was written on the board. But, as the rebellious kid in the back of the classroom, it was apparent I needed to move to the front row to remove and separate myself from the distractions. In 2020 I realized that I could not sit in the back; like I could lead the class or something myself. But rather, I needed to move closer to the chalkboard to see clearer. I needed to move closer to the Teacher so that I would not become distracted by all the noise, and so that I would not miss a Word of His Instructions.
Here’s a passage and point of learning in Isaiah 30:18-21 which has helped me move towards and remain closer to the Teacher:
Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him. For, you people in Zion, inhabitant in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. He will certainly be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when He hears it, He will answer you. Although the Lord has given you bread of deprivation and water of oppression, He, your Teacher, will no longer hide Himself, but your eyes will see your Teacher. Your ears will hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left.
Isaiah 30: 18-21
1. GOD ALWAYS WANTS TO HELP.
He always longs to shower us with His grace, His compassion, His justice, His blessings and His responsiveness. It’s amazing how the God of all creation desires to have an intimate, daily, moment-by-moment relationship with us. He longs to always help in every situation of life. When we need His greater grace, He’s there! When we need His compassion, He’s there! When we need His blessings, He’s there! When we need Him to respond to us, He’s always there! In 2020 I’ve personally experienced this like never before, and heard countless testimonies of the same. How about you?
2. LET GOD BE YOUR TEACHER.
Our natural, sinful resistance is to avoid instructions from anyone, especially God. But if we want to uninhibitedly experience His unfailing grace, compassion, justice, blessings and responsiveness in all things and all times, it’s imperative to see Him, and always see Him, as Teacher. Not a one and done teacher. Not a one semester, one class, or experience teacher. But rather, the Teacher who has the ongoing privilege to whisper in your ear, this is the way, walk in it. I believe in 2020, the Church was re-instructed in sensitivity to the voice of God. To learn to hear Him – over physical pain (COVID-19), and to hear him over emotional pains (race and politics). This sensitivity of hearing and relying upon the voice of God in all things has always been the privileged power of the Church. We can never stop walking in it!
I hope the corrective (heart) surgery we’ve all experienced in 2020 will remain and extend into the next generations. That they, like we, will experience the uninhibitedly unfailing grace, compassion, justice, blessings and responsiveness of God in all things and all times. That they, like we, understand the imperativeness to see Him, and always see Him as Lord—and the Teacher.