Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that." (James 4:13-15)
Those verses are not only familiar, they are in some ways even comforting. There is a marvelous unknown quality about each new day. Surprises await! Will we meet a new friend, find a new opportunity, have an unexpected moment? Something wonderful may be approaching at the very next corner!
However, there may also be totally unexpected losses; losses of opportunity, losses of jobs, health and security. Even sudden loss of life. The future is unknown.
The year 2020 has brought more change, more challenge and more pain to our church and members as a whole than any year in my memory. Right now only a small portion of our members are gathering for worship together. With brave faces we cautiously assemble, many behind masks which hide both our smiles and heartaches. Gone for now are the warm embraces and hearty handshakes that defined us before. Now we sit scattered across open spaces where so many family faces are missing.
2020 has reminded us that the things we took for granted as certainties in life are not certain. Our meetings were canceled, our dinners were canceled, even our weekly gatherings for worship were brushed aside for a time. Still we soldier on... hoping for a new year, hoping for a rebounding economy, hoping life will go back to how it was.
What will a new year bring? We still don’t know about tomorrow! We don’t know whether we will fare well or struggle for the most basic parts of our normal routines. Perhaps, we are all coming to see more clearly the deeply true meaning of James’ wisdom.
I urge that we all hold to these things as we begin a new year; We live in Christ, we eagerly wait for better things than this world has. Perhaps with a grounded spiritual resolve we will say, “If the Lord wills we shall live and do this or that.” Embrace the words of Paul, boldly affirm, ”We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed,” (2 Cor. 4:8). In God’s love we stand ready for a new year.
- Tim Orbison