I have always found a new year to be kind of a bag of mixed emotions. Certainly, there is something exciting about looking ahead to a year full of untapped promise, but there is a kind of ominous side to a new year as well. Like walking in the dark, we don’t really have any idea what lies ahead of us.
A year ago we were charging into a new year with all kinds of excitement and enthusiasm. After all, in ministry how can you not be excited about everything you can do with the number “2020”? Be honest, how many of you pastors preached a sermon last January titled, “2020 Vision”?
But then March hit and with it the Coronavirus pandemic. Most of us had never heard that word, but within a matter of a few days we had to pivot and try to figure out how to BE the church when we couldn’t MEET as a church. Besides navigating Coronavirus, several of our churches (and their congregants) were blasted by the Derecho storm (also another word most of us had never heard until 2020).
No doubt about it, it has been a difficult year, one that has tested our trust in God and his sovereignty. An interesting trend I’ve noticed recently is that people can’t wait for 2020 to be done because they assume that 2021 will be easier. Maybe… Maybe not. I don’t know what the new year holds, but I do know that you’ll need to trust God just as much in 2021 as you did in 2020. Let me give you a little primer on trust from Proverbs 3:5-6.
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.
There are two distinct parts involved in this decision to trust. First there is total reliance on God. Notice that little three letter word, all. All your heart, all your intellect and will. Not part, all. Nothing held back, no back door exits. This is a total reliance on God.
Secondly, in order for that to happen, you must go on to the second part of this decision, which is the total renunciation of self. “And lean not on your own understanding.” You are not trusting with all your heart if you are depending on your understanding. In other words, if you are using your solutions, you’re not trusting. Charles Bridges, a Christian leader who lived several hundred years ago, said in reference to this scripture, “The trust called for here is not only entire, it’s exclusive.”
Let’s take it a step further. Verse 6 tells us, “in all your ways acknowledge him.” The word “acknowledge” means to bring pleasure. To acknowledge the Lord means to bring pleasure to him in everything I do. That means the little things as well as the big things.
So what is the result of all this? The last part of verse six says, “And he will make your paths straight.” The term “make your paths straight” has an interesting Hebrew meaning. The same phrase is used one other time in the Old Testament, in Isaiah and there it is translated, “He shall make a highway.” In other words, he doesn’t just give you a hint of what his will might be, he makes a highway.
Corrie Ten Boom was a World War II prisoner of war, who God used in an incredible way to spread the message of how, in the hands of God, even the most terrible things can be used for good.
She had an embroidery of a crown that she took with her to her speaking engagements and she would hold up the embroidery and show the beautiful picture of a crown, then she would turn the embroidery over showing the tangled, confused mess of all different colored threads on the back side of the embroidery. Then she would quote this poem she had written.
My life is but a weaving,
between my God and me.
I do not choose the colors,
He worketh steadily.
Oftimes he weaveth sorrow,
and I in foolish pride,
Forget He sees the upper,
and I the under-side.
Not till the loom is silent,
and the shuttles cease to fly,
Will God unroll the canvas,
and explain the reason why,
The dark threads are as needful,
in the skillful weaver’s hand,
As the threads of gold and silver,
in the pattern he has planned.
2020 has looked like a mess in many ways and who knows what 2021 will look like. But I do know this. You can trust the Weaver…