What a year it’s been! Probably nothing like any of us expected at the start of the year.
As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I feel that it’s too soon to be able to offer any conclusions about the lessons of 2020, but it is good to take a moment to look back and reflect.
One thing I always find interesting is to look back over my blog posts, to see which ones gained the most views and sparked the best conversations. This year I discovered that there were two particularly popular posts, and as it turns out, they sum up my 2020 pretty well.
2020 will always be linked in our minds with the pandemic, but I never want to forget how wonderful the first two months of 2020 were for me. I began the year full of anticipation over the new Journey To Heal ministry I was hoping to begin in my church.
My top post of the year, “What If…?” sums up that time for me. Excited but nervous, hopeful but fearful, willing to take a risk and see what God could do, but at the same time battling the fear that it would all go wrong.
It seems a lot of people resonated as I wrote about changing the “What Ifs”. Instead of asking, “What if people judge me? What if I’m rejected? What if I’m not good enough” maybe some more helpful questions would be, “What if God can use this? What if God is calling you? What if you let fear hold you back from doing what God is calling you to do?”
And as I stepped out into this new opportunity, I saw God do more than I could ever have imagined. None of my fears were realised, and I saw him at work in unexpected ways.
What I had never considered, even in my worst moments of asking “What If” was the possibility of a global pandemic that would not only stop this new ministry in its tracks, but impact almost every aspect of our daily lives…
…Which brings me to my second top post, “When Ministry Is Interrupted.” This is my favourite post of the year and the one that most sums up 2020 for me. It’s also very appropriate for this post-Christmas period.
After weeks of struggling with the sudden interruption to a ministry where I had undoubtedly seen God at work the thing that led me to a place of peace was reflecting on the story of Mary. The Christmas Story is full of excitement: an angelic visit, a miraculous birth, shepherds and wise men coming to worship. God was doing something truly momentous.
But then it went quiet. Mary and Joseph had to flee to Egypt to save the life of their precious baby, and for years he grew up in obscurity. Did Mary ever question what God was doing?
Her story reassured me that God still had a plan. He would finish the work he had begun in his way and in his time. In the meantime I sought to learn from Mary’s example – treasuring in her heart what she had seen and pondering it, trusting that he was still there and still working.
And that’s where I’ve been for most of the year – waiting, pondering, hoping…
There has been encouragement in recent weeks, and the beginnings of a way forward. There has also been the emergence of a new, more infectious strain of COVID that has made the path ahead look less certain once again. But then, just today, there was hopeful news that a new vaccine has been approved for use in the UK that should speed the vaccination process up a lot. It all sums up the roller coaster that has been 2020.
As we look to 2021, who knows what lies ahead? I am drawn to these words from the well-known poem “God Knows” by Minnie Louise Haskins:
“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.””
Wishing you all a happy New Year and blessings for 2021!