Every year about this time, it happens. One year ends. Another begins. Every New Years Eve, there’s a big hoopla in Time Square, as hundreds of thousands of people gather, standing for hours in the cold — no matter how cold — in order to watch a huge crystal ball drop at the midnight hour, and one year ends, another begins.
Except … except that this year was different. They still dropped the ball. One year ended, another began. But the throngs of people who normally gathered, couldn’t gather. No way to socially distance hundreds of thousands of people in Time Square. No way to convince that many people that they needed to wear their masks. And so, the ‘normal’ New Years Eve celebration looked more like a ‘Thank God 2020 is Over!” celebration, than a “Hooray for 2021” party, I think. No doubt all of us begin this new year with tremendous hope for a better year than our world experienced in 2020.
Something else happens about this time every year, for me. For the past several years, my wife and I have taken a few days away from our normal responsibilities to evaluate, plan, assess, dream. It’s what I call a ‘baton-pass’ from one year to the next. I sort of picture being in a relay race. I’ve just completed running one leg of a contest, and I’m preparing to grab the baton to run the next year’s leg. My wife and I look back at the past 12 months, note God’s faithfulness and thank Him for His provision; this year, we’re thanking Him for health and protection from the COVID virus. We had some goals for 2020, too. Some of them we accomplished. Some of them will, no doubt, go on our 2021 list of things we hope to see happen.
And, yes. We’ll have dreams for 2021. I’d like to write another book this year, for example. I’d like to read more books, too. And perhaps, if things quiet down with the pandemic, we might plan some travel, do some projects around our house, visit our grandkids and other family and friends. There’s a lot we’d like to see happen in 2021. And there’s a lot that happened in 2020 that we hope to never see again. We choose not to complain. We choose to view life as God has given it to us as a gift; the challenges will help us grow stronger. The disappointments will cause us to rely on Him, even more than we already do. And the blessings, those we see and those that are invisible to our faith-weak eyes, we will thank God for during our days of reflection, and planning.
To say good-bye to 2020 and hello to 2021, we will read and reassure ourselves with God’s eternal word. May it encourage us all as we look look to our eternal God:
“The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock. …
I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.