Well, 2020 has turned out to be a real barn burner, hasn’t it?
A worldwide pandemic, massive financial crisis, and murder hornets have descended on us. There seem to be a multitude of people to blame but no one who can save us. But now a new video of the brutal shooting of an unarmed black man is reminding us that there are still some horrors humankind creates and perpetuates all on its own.
These are just the collective, public tragedies we are facing. If we could peel back the protective layers of every person’s private life, we would find domestic abuse, malicious lies, individual injustices, unnamed and undetected diseases, and a host of other tragedies.
2020 is more than we are equipped to bear.
I was sitting at my desk last night, on (yet another) Zoom call, and there on the wall in front of me was a note I wrote to myself in early January. On some random day in February, I taped up the note above my desk, a reminder to my future self of the words I heard God say in the very last days of December 2019:
“Let Me do something for you.”
There are people who get grand paragraphs and even books of encouragement from God, but over the years, I have received only a few brief sentences from Him.
When I felt His gentle prodding to write a book, but I didn’t want to risk failure, He told me, “The book is the way through.”
When I envied all the pretty things someone else had, He said, “Let her have her things.”
When the future seemed hazy and full of bad news, He gave me a promise wrapped up in a gentle command, “Let Me do something for you.”
When I line up these sentences with scripture, I find that they are proof God has no problem repeating Himself.
“The book is the way through,” was a familiar biblical reminder that obedience is often the pathway to what we long for most of all.
“Let her have her things,” was a restatement of the original commandment not to covet what others have.
And “Let Me do something for you,” is the most compact explanation of the gospel I have encountered.
My own spiritual foolishness is proven by how God’s words expose my doubt that He wants to do something to bless us here in the shadowland of 2020. My soul feels the ache of this strange year, and yet my mind wonders if 2020 has us walking among the first followers of Jesus, who stood and watched their hope of salvation die unjustly on a cross.
Jesus stretched Himself out and really, He was saying, “Let Me do something for you.” Yet his best friends and most devoted followers were completely unaware of all He was doing for them.
Then Jesus proved the power of what He had done when He showed up resurrected and all sparkly with heavenly glory. It was easy then for His disciples to believe He had done the impossible. Because they had seen the risen Lord, they were able to let God do whatever He wanted to do after that, even when following Him meant persecution, suffering, and death.
Obedience and submission are the obvious responses when God shows up in person. If my faith is too small, I either need better vision or the courage to believe in God does miracles even though I haven’t seen Him with my own eyes yet.
Either way, the question at hand is this: Will I let God be God and do whatever he says, no matter where it leads me?
Perhaps this is the question I am afraid to ask here in the shadowland of 2020 because I know that in many ways, I would like for God to let me be the one who decides how to find the way to the end of this story we are in. My pride insists that I will write a happy-enough ending if I have the power to decide how this goes. My immaturity fears that God will take too long to do the same. My faith knows I am a foolish, foolish woman if I don’t surrender myself into God’s capable, powerful, mighty hands.
After all, look how quickly the earth has healed while we have stayed home, waiting for a miracle to come. Could the skies of our souls become blue and clear if we would let God do something for us? Will the mountains we can’t climb in our society be cast into the sea if we would stop cursing them as we circle them? Would our careers and families and communities blossom if we would entrust them to God as we faithfully love and serve them?
What do we risk by letting God be God? We risk God’s will swallowing up our own, which terrifies us.
What do we risk by not letting God be God? We risk losing our ability to love God most of all and others more than ourselves because we would be choosing to hold onto our will above all else.
2020 is our year to become bigger on the inside, even as our lives become smaller on the outside. It’s time to let the size of our faith smother the voices of our pride and immaturity. There is a risen Christ within us, a good Father blessing us, and a powerful Spirit protecting and comforting us.
Let God do something for you. Let Him love you, forgive you, lead you, heal you, deliver you, rebuke you, reward you, call you, anoint you, appoint you, change you, transform you.
Maybe 2020 isn’t a barn burner after all. Maybe it’s a burning bush, and God’s come to set us free.