Faith is visualizing the future in the present—it means seeing the future in advance. People say, “Seeing is believing.” God says the exact opposite: “Believing is seeing.” Some things you’ll never see unless you believe them first. - Rick Warren
I've discovered as a parent that I really don't know nearly as much as I thought I did. At times my children ask me what something means and though I might profess to knowing what it means (more to myself than them), my inability to explain what it means would suggest otherwise. It reminds me of the song Knowledge by Operation Ivy and it ends with -
All I know is that I don't knowAll I know is that I don't know nothingAll I know is that I don't knowAll I know is that I don't know nothingAnd that's fine.
And as a Christian that really is fine. We may not know all the answers, but we do know who does. Still, I think it is safe to say none of us knew what was in store not just personally but for the World in 2020. I remember the phrase '20/20 vision' was being bandied about early on suggesting some clarity or sharpness in quality was the direction for the year. I always thought 20/20 vision meant 'perfect', and I guess it's usage as such can be contested, but your optometrist would say it's actually considered 'normal'. And yet nothing much about this year could reasonably be considered normal. Despite the very real struggles faced, we have also seen a whole lot of good come from 2020 not least of which the lives saved via the Church's ability to adapt.
Following the discovery of Covid-19 and ten months of how we live our life being decided upon (read 'dictated' if you will) using scant and ever changing data, it's no wonder many people are disconcerted, despondent even. I have found myself searching for a secular understanding of the situation, a reasoning behind the contradictory rules from the authorities (particularly with many examples of those same people flaunting them) and dare I say semblance of control of my own life. Well that should have been my first red flag.
I have obsessed over why I should give up my freedoms for something I don't believe in, and no I don't mean the virus. I mean the value to society that these rules are meant to be providing. Whilst it is undoubtedly important to acquire knowledge on the situation what I failed to do alongside this was pray, read scripture and to have faith. I have had more mature Christians suggest reading Revelations as a good starting point.
A reliable preface I will be taking into 2021 comes from Hebrews 11:1 "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."
Whilst I have had an abundance of God's favour in my life this past year there are times (very recent in fact) my faith has waned, times I felt disconnected from God (of my own accord) and unable to do this without my church family. The loss (read 'theft' if you will) of in-person gathering, of physical connection, of my first Easter having been saved, of the opportunity to be baptised, of my first Christmas anniversary, these are the things that have negatively impacted my life the most. That, and seeing the doubt sewn into family and friend's minds about decisions I make that I believe to be best for my family. And unfortunately I admit to having resorted to distraction and old habits to try and fill the void (real or imagined) created from the lack of events.
And once more that brings me back to accepting I don't know much beyond God being in control, and the need to have faith in what I do not (yet) see. I added yet because the perspective I have been given over this past year has been truly a blessing. With the acceptance that life as we currently know it (in order to protect the most vulnerable) will likely remain until at least Easter I would do well to use that time wisely. The vicar taught me a new word early on when we were still able to have in person life group sessions, discernment. That is my word from 2020 and a challenge I will set myself along with a few others that I may divulge in another post.
Something I've not done before is finish a post with a prayer but I am moved to do so as much for me as for anyone who reads this.
"Lord I thank you for all you have done in my life this year. I thank you for every situation you got me through and preparing me for the life I now live. I thank you for opening my eyes to a better way of life, and for your unrelenting patience. Lord I pray for forgiveness for when I fall short, for when I lack faith. Lord I pray for those who have suffered any type of loss this year due to the pandemic. I pray for your healing spiritually and physically for those affected directly by the virus itself and the subsequent enforced circumstances to protect others. I pray for your guidance and for discernment in the situations I find myself in. Lord I pray that I can be a reflection of your love and continue to mature in spirit. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen."
*In searching for a suitable graphic for this post (I very nearly used the album cover to "The 20/20 Experience" by Justin Timberlake) I came across the following blog post and wouldn't you know it, despite being from 2017 it's completely relevant today. I haven't read beyond this single entry but will be taking a look at more of Phil's blog - 20/20 vision when you look back… – God's story through my life from 2005 to eternity… (wordpress.com)