The page has turned, a new decade has started. We peer across the broad valley of 2020 as it stretches out before us. We search the landscape of the future for traps and treasures on the trails that our feet will tread.
For some the next twelve months are already haunted by ghosts of anxiety, while goblins of fear perniciously scratch at the door of their hearts. Consequently, they “hunker down” in survival mode and live from dread to dread instead of day to day. Living life in emotional and spiritual foxholes, they miss the beauty and joy of living and find little purpose in the journey.
Others feel that they can move on because they look to political parties as a quick fix to various personal problems and economic woes. Fiscal cliffs, gun control bills (the passage or lack of passage, depending on your point of view), health-care programs, and legalization of dubious substances, may make uncertainties that whisper in their ears seem temporary or even silly. Most people follow leaders who do not know the way themselves (although they claim to) and these “leaders” ultimately lead their trusting followers into swampy regions that quagmire their dreams and swallow up their hopes. Lost in the woods of disillusionment, they become calloused and cold, hardly ready for what lies beyond this valley.
There may be some for whom neither rings true; they simply will hope for the best and wade across on across the days and weeks ahead, maybe finding some good things on the way, but ultimately only setting their feet into pitfalls and snares that litter the valley floor. These, without a guide who knows the way, may make it across but then again may not, at least not without becoming wounded or lost.
But then there are some who look across the valley of 2020 and see the horizon beyond. They know that on the other side is an eternity awaiting them. They have received the message that there is a Guide for the journey across the valley and so, placing their hand in His, they journey the path that He has chosen for them, and they can proceed without fear of wolves of discouragement, bears of bitterness, or snakes whose fangs drip the venom of despair. For ones such as these, the truth of Psalm 146 is not only reassuring but is life-anchoring.
“Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever” (Psalm 146:1-6 ESV).
As long as God’s children live, they can praise God. In 2019 which is gone, in 2020 which is here, and in all the decades that are yet to be, God’s children may sing praise to Him for He is the God Who is faithful forever.
Are you feeling uncertain about the future? Then let the Lord be your guide. He weaves cosmic events into a tapestry of grace and beauty, bringing all the various threads of countless people across the world and across time together into the fabric of His purpose. He can certainly handle your life, too.
Is your trust in the “princes” of today? Be careful of investing your hope in the people and politics of today (or any day). While God’s children are called to be His ambassadors in this world (bringing the salt of truth into an age and culture which wars against God’s truth), we know that we are not seeking to build kingdoms here, but look forward to the full unveiling of the kingdom of God which will only really come when Jesus Himself returns.
Are you content with simply living life, taking whatever comes your way, hoping to be lucky enough to be happy? Then let God revamp your small and inconsequential dreams and give you new dreams… ones that extend beyond the moment into an eternal legacy. God is the God of forever (verses 6 and 10)! He leads all who will follow from the mere lowlands of existence into heights of glorious purpose and everlasting joy!
“He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. The LORD watches over the sojourners; He upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked He brings to ruin. The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!” (Psalm 146:7-10 ESV).
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 24 ½ years, is the author of Led by Grace, The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com.” Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)