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Wow, God.

A year ago, our present reality seemed unfathomable. Working from home. Online learning. Remote doctor's appointments and church attendance in PJs from our living rooms.

2020 forced us through many changes - changed habits, changed minds, changed jobs, changed theology. Some of those changes have been exciting (grandbabies, anyone?!?!). Some of those changes have been devastating. Thanks for being with us through it all - even when we didn't feel like you were there.

As we continue to step into 2021, perhaps more than any other new year, things feel like they are out of our control. We can't control a virus. We can't control an economy. We can't control the political divisions. We can't control social media from spiraling into a cesspool of toxic engagement. And there are those who want to tell us that God is in complete control of everything, but I can't blame you for all that is out there that doesn't look like Jesus.

So as we continue into 2021, what are we to do? How are we to respond? God, although things are out of my control, please help me with what I can do.

  • Help me to stay close to you. Help me to practice the habits and disciplines that keep me connected to the one who is my anchor in the stormy seas and the foundational rock when the gale-force winds blow.
  • Help me stay connected to Jesus people. Help me to prioritize relationships that point me towards you and are life-giving. Where I don't have those right now, help me to seek them out, and invite others into that kind of relationship with me.
  • Help me to live as a person of hope. It is easy to get bogged down by the things of life. Help me to see your hand at work in the difficult times and help me to be your hand at work.
  • Help me to contribute goodness even when I can't control the outcome. I can't get rid of a virus, but I can contribute to it not spreading by following basic health practices that protect the vulnerable like wearing a mask, washing my hands, social distancing, and getting a vaccine when it is available to me. I can't control the economy, but I can be thoughtful in how I spend my income and give generously. I can't control politics, but I can control how I engage with people and situations in my community. And I can't control social media, but I can control how speak and act within those forums in order to minimize the toxicity.
  • Help me to be present and to listen well this year - listening to you as you speak your love and grace and guidance into my mind and heart; listening to others as they share (and listening to learn, not to respond!); and listening to what my body, mind, and soul are crying out for me to pay attention to.

God, as I sit here asking for your help, I am hopeful. In 2021, there will likely be some major challenges and messes. And I'll likely be reminded over and over again that I can't really control very much. But, if I, by your grace and with your help, can walk with you and with others on this kind of journey through 2021, I can't help but believe that it will be a good year. If I . . . if we . . . can get to the end of the year walking in those ways, we'll get there knowing that we have not been alone and celebrating the good that has broken into the world.

May your love flow through us in the days, weeks, months, and the year to come.