What were your thoughts when the clock struck midnight and 2021 appeared?

“Will 2021 be a repeat of 2020?” “Should I even buy a calendar or planner? How can I plan?” “What’s ahead in 2021?”

One of the ways we look to a new year is to rewind and review the previous one. Perhaps it held experiences you want to hang onto or learn from, or prayerfully, not repeat. Hopefully, your year held moments of gratitude.

Many people set New Year’s resolutions and make goals. Some choose a Bible verse as a guide or a word to focus on and live out the next twelve months. Last year my word was “LIFE”. My perspective came from John 10:10 (NIV), “I have come that you might have life and have it to the full.”

Was it ironic or a challenge, that much of life as we knew it stopped in March?

Was it strange that in 2020–a term we associate with clear vision–our clarity was dimmed, and we woke up each day with uncertainty?

John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans.” Life happened while many plans were interrupted, changed, or cancelled. My trip to meet my cousin and family for the first time in my life was cancelled due to COVID-19.  Each day, my adult daughters and I held our breath wondering if we could take this trip of a lifetime to see their grandfather’s and maternal grandparents’ birthplace. The dream of meeting family, along with taking historic tours and a cooking class, evaporated a month before departure.

My grands moved to cyber learning and their musicals and sports events cancelled. Even my grandson’s low-key kindergarten graduation was held in a parking lot. Facebook photos showed drive-by birthdays. Church moved to online. “Zoom” became one of the most used words and practices in 2020.

I experienced directly or via my friends and family, deep personal losses. I lived and  learned what it meant to “weep with those who weep”. 

Life happened. How clearly did we see it? Was it blurry or out of focus?

Did you keep a journal last year? Rewinding and rereading is a good discipline. It shows us

  • the good, and the not-so good
  • responses and reactions
  • thoughts and decisions
  • prayers of thanks and lament
  • what we did that was life-draining, life-giving, and life changing
  • when we moved forward and how long we stayed in place.

But in all of these contrasts, God’s faithfulness prevailed. His faithfulness gives life.

     “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Despite disappointments, isolation, no hugs from grandsons for weeks, and major adjustments, I lived in 2020 and saw:

  • renewed value in what really matters:
  • value in relationships, time, and personal growth
  • appreciation for what money can’t buy
  • uninterrupted study and devotional time because I had no place to go
  • and making moments count.
  • what I could live without
  • reminders that God is sovereign
  • God’s faithfulness and provision even in my aloneness

It was an odd way to realize my word, but I did. I had the fullness of life with a new perspective. I actually had, by seeing God’s faithfulness in life, 2020 vision.

     So coming up, there was no doubt what my word for 2021 would be. I found it in early November. Another short but full-of-life word: HOPE.

I’m not looking at wishful thinking, chance, a dream, or expectation that it won’t rain at the beach. No I’m looking at life-giving hope—the kind that comes from confident expectation that God’s truth and faithfulness never fail and that He is bigger than circumstances. My cousin messaged me once air travel was halted:

“Dear Marilyn, I’m very sorry about this strange situation We have waited a long time, a few months will not stop us. I hope to meet you soon, a warm greeting to all of you.” Confident expectation: hope.

  So my rewind led me to reset my mindset. I’m sure there will be a repeat of cancellations, changes, and disappointments. but I hope to live in hope and move toward hope by clinging to a verse in Romans.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (NIV)

     That’s my prayer for you too.

Has what you learned in 2020 as you rewind, perhaps reread your journal, or review photos on your phone, moving you to a reset? Have you  chosen a word, perspective, or a Bible verse as your guide? Share it with us and why you chose it.

    My friend April White and I are preparing to launch our book Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart.  We’ve established a Facebook group called Destination Hope, where we can mutually encourage each other, enjoy humor, and even have give aways from time to time. If you are interested in joining this private group, click on this link:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/1837806079708594


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