There is a guest at your table.
You may not see her, but she’s sitting with you. She’s been there for a while now.
Her name is 2020. Yes, you’ve heard of her.
In fact, it’s highly likely that you sent an invitation to her toward the end of last year. That’s what we often do. As we move to the end of a year, we extend the hand of grace and anticipation to the next year.
And so we did with 2020.
We boldly posted our, “Bye Felecia!” memes to send 2019 on her way, and we eagerly sent the invitation to 2020. We invited her to the table. We smiled and poured a cup of something lovely. And we began talking.
We laid out our expectations. We told 2020 what we needed from her. We made the list of goals and dreams and “this year it will be different” proclamations.
We treat years like that, don’t we?
I love the definition of calendar: a system of reckoning time. If you’re curious, reckoning means to calculate, settle up, count on…
We did that. We sat 2020 down and we told her we counted on her to deliver.
It didn’t take long for us to sit her down again, and condemn her lack of response to our demands.
A global pandemic.
Wildfires and floods and hurricanes.
And those? They weren’t even part of the things that make us normally curse a year.
Loved ones gone.
Restlessness and regrets.
Frustrations and faithlessness.
At the beginning of the year, we rallied, even as the world around us was turning upside down. I remember watching the videos my friend Dee would post from New York City, of pots and pans and cowbells all clanging their support of healthcare workers tirelessly serving an ever-growing need. We all tuned in to see what would be shared on Some Good News. And we attempted sourdough.
I failed sourdough, but made enough crusty French bread to feed an army.
It didn’t take us long to weary. And within months of her birth, we were cursing 2020’s presence. We were demanding that she leave and be replaced by a year that would offer more, that would meet our expectations, that would finally deliver on all we wanted.
And yet, she has stayed. She’s right here. And I believe that, if 2020 could speak to you and to me right now, she would say this to us.
I’m just a year, 366 whirling dances of daylight and night. Yes, I got the bonus day because your ancestors didn’t know exactly how to make creation fit into the calendar. I hold no power in my hands or make no plans for your benefit or demise. I am not that creative.
I merely respond to the Creator.
I have no power to speak into your days. But I know the One who spoke stars—the one who shaped you into His image and likeness. You have His DNA. Me? I have you. Genesis 1 says I was created for you. Genesis 1 says you’re here to take care of me, to lead well, to honor our great God. Remember, He said I was good. He said you were VERY good.
If 2020 could speak, I think she would tell you that this year isn’t over yet. That there is still time to reckon the days.
Now, the reckoning won’t come with a presidential election.
It won’t come with a Thanksgiving holiday or a Black Friday shopping spree or a Giving Tuesday or even a Christmas tree put up exceptionally early because we’re going to put 2020 in her place and let her know we can do whatever we want.
You and I can reckon the days we have left with two powerful weapons: reconciliation and redemption.
I’m not sure about you, but I’m having to ask for forgiveness. I’m having to take a hard look at 2020 and tell her I apologize for holding her responsible for my happiness, my joy, my dreams, my expectations. I’m having to look at the days that are offered to me by a God who is sovereign and ask forgiveness for shunning those days because I didn’t much care for the color of the wrapping paper and bow. I’m having to confess to cursing the days, the seasons, this country, my neighbors, myself. I have been fickle in my affection. I have stomped my feet like a toddler when things didn’t go well and refused to play nice. I need reconciliation in my heart and in my days. How about you?
Let’s let 2020 know that she is still welcome at the table.
Then, let’s redeem the days.
Ephesians 5:16 says we should be wise and make the most of every opportunity, even in the midst of days that may be full of calamity, full of disaster, full of frustration or pain or hurt. Ephesians 2:10 says we that heaven’s poetry is written on our lives so that we may be a tangible expression of Christ’s love as we simply trust the Lord and walk with Him to see those days as worthy of ministry.
If 2020 could speak, I believe she would tell you that God has placed some precious things in our lives this year—things He doesn’t want us to miss, things He knows will be healing balm to a broken world.
2020 has taught us that we will never be beyond the need for humility. We need to learn, to unlearn, to learn new. We need to admit when we are wrong, to confess that we’re not always the smartest kid in the classroom. If Jesus humbled Himself and became a servant, so should we. If Jesus said they would know us by our love, we should long to be that love even if it means we risk reputation and being right so that we may do right. Oh, how we need to do right.
2020 has taught us about empathy, about stepping in someone else’s shoes, about listening well. In James, it says our prayers are impactful not because we know the perfect words, but because we make our hearts available to carry the weight of someone else’s pain.
2020 has taught us that the fruit of the Spirit isn’t something that can be manufactured, purchased, or sliced into small segments. Love, peace, joy, kindness, patience, gentleness, goodness, and self-control are born from roots going deep, seasons of flood and drought, messy and smelly fertilization, and some pretty serious pruning. Anyone else feeling pruned this year? Anyone else knee-deep in stink? Take heart. There might be some blossoms on the branches.
2020 has taught us that grief isn’t a problem to be solved or an inconvenience to be mastered, but perhaps more of a companion who will not leave us—an awkward friend who will whisper stories that connect us to our past and give us new vision for the future.
2020 has taught us that we are crafted for community, that it is truly not good for us to be alone. We need each other to help remind us of who we are and Whose we are. And we need to neighbor well. This world honestly needs a few more Samaritans right now—good ones willing to step in and offer grace, strong and honest ones willing to step up and speak life.
2020 is sitting with you at the table right now. And she wants you to remember that the only way to reckon the days is to yield them to the God who redeems them. She says there is still time, because our Father spoke it into being and has not abandoned it—or you. She wants you to know that it’s not about dates on a calendar or the name of a year. It’s about the days you are living and the name you have been given.
THERE IS STILL TIME, friends. There is still time for us to rise.