Jump Start # 2746
Philippians 1:3 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.”
This is the final week of the year. And, I can just hear a collective, “good,” coming from so many people. It’s been a tough year. It’s been tough on the country. It’s been tough economically. It’s been tough on businesses. It’s been tough on churches. It’s been tough on schools. It’s been tough on families. And, it’s been tough personally. We know simply flipping a calendar from one month to the next or from one year to the next, doesn’t mean all troubles will end. It doesn’t mean that things automatically get better. We know that. We are smarter than that.
As we get ready to wind this year up and move on, I thought it would be good to take a look backward as well as forward. We will do that this week with our Jump Starts. The backward look can help us prepare and plan for the forward look. The two views may look very different, yet the reflection can help us as we walk with the Lord.
When Paul remembered the Philippians, it made him thankful.
Here are a few things I’ve seen over the past year:
- Many folks have worked harder than they ever have. The work to produce videos, zoom classes and livestream has taxed many congregations, but somehow, likely with the Lord’s help, we’ve managed not to just survive, but more than that, we have excelled. We’ve had to learn new technology. We’ve had to work through problems and bugs that interfered with sound and visual presentations. We’ve learned shortcuts and have gotten pretty adapted at what we were doing. It’s amazing what can be done.
- We’ve learned patience with each other as those early videos were nothing to write home about. We understood that our preachers and teachers were doing the best that they could at the moment. The lessons dealt with faith, storms, trials, courage and the very things that we needed during this troublesome time.
- We saw that although not everyone agreed nor were on the same page about how services ought to be conducted during the pandemic, with masks, social distancing and times no in-person meetings, we understood that worship had to go on. Some didn’t see eye to eye but by in large we understood the greater picture and that was the wellbeing of the entire congregation and the honor of the Lord.
- We witnessed the struggle that many elderships went through in trying to make the right call on these things. The conversations and prayers were often long. Many elderships were torn about what the right decision ought to be. These men were going down roads that no one in modern times have traveled before. There was no example from the past that could guide them. The toll on these great hearts has been great. Their love for the congregation has been demonstrated in ways never before seen.
- We have found the power of connection through emails, texts and sending cards. Apart, we have remained close and our expressions of thankfulness and love have been felt by the genuine care of so many.
- We have stayed close to the Lord, maybe even closer than in times past. Our needs, concerns and fears have been expressed to Heaven and the Lord has blessed us in so many ways.
- Although we have had to juggle reshaping services, helping those who could not get out, our focus upon the truth and our love for the lost has never been lost. We’ve found unique ways to teach, reach and connect others to the Bible. We’ve had funerals that were difficult because of the restrictions yet, we found ways to make things work. We’ve been exhausted, but we haven’t given up. We’ve had to cancel some plans, but we kept moving forward. The catalog of sermons produced through this pandemic has been some of the best preaching in years. Our ears have been especially open to lessons that seemed so timely, helpful and practical during this season of storms. Our hearts and our faith has grown.
Was this past year a complete failure? Absolutely not. Was it just moving through the motions? No. Much good came from those who chose to find good in it. For many, it was one of the best years of building faith and using their talents. And, what we found is that difficulties do just that. It causes all of us to get off the sidelines of life and to become engaged in the great struggle for faith and hope.
And, one of the greatest lessons we’ve learned from this year is that we can do it. Battered, a bit weary, but we are not down and we are never out. We’ve got through this and that has given us hope that we can face anything. We long for better times, but even if they don’t come, we know that we can carry on.
Before you jump upon the bandwagon of those who proclaim this year as nothing but gloom and doom, take a long, long look. Much good has come that may never have happened under normal times. And, on the other side of this storm, we’ll be a stronger, closer and better group of disciples.