I am sure you are all familiar with the ‘’2020 memes’’ that have been doing the rounds. Things like if 2020 was a pizza, it would have a nasty, dry crust, a dismal deficiency of cheese, and toppings like broccoli, brussel sprouts and polony. Or if 2020 was a shirt, it would be of the most uncomfortable variety: ill-fitting, dishevelled and buttoned up all wrong!
A picture speaks a thousand words! What a year it has been! None of us, not even in our wildest dreams, would have thought that we would be living through what we are. 2020, has been unpredictable, unprecedented (word of the year?) and uncanny, to say the least!
And yet our year has also been a great schoolmaster, teaching us new things and stretching us beyond our comfort zones. For all its heartache, loss and pain, 2020 has also afforded us some once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. With all the usual scaffolding of our lives having fallen by the wayside, we have been left to stare honestly at what remains: the bare basics of life and its deepest meaning. I believe humanity would do well to place 2020 on the dissection table and take an intentional look at what we have lived through. What have we learned? What changes will we keep? How will we live going forward? What can we discard, that is no longer serving us so well? Slicing deeply into the year, and taking a careful look, may yield some surprising conclusions. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living”. We should indeed be those who examine our lives! 2020, in my opinion, should not be allowed to pass without a thorough post-mortem.
When I contemplate the last 9 months, I cannot help but see the image of the miner’s sieve. I remember seeing pictures of alluvial gold and diamond miners panning for the material that would bring them wealth. Great amounts of gravel were tossed into the miner’s sieve and then, the sieve was shaken, causing all the unwanted particles to fall through mesh. What remained was usually the good stuff, stones of enormous worth. Likewise, 2020 has sifted our lives. Non-essentials have fallen through the mesh, leaving only what really matters.
For me, the three biggest, and only, rocks that remain in the sieve are Faith (in our living God and the vibrant, abiding relationship that He so longs to have with us), Family and Friends. All three of these are fundamentally important as they will last for eternity. These “rocks” are the very essence of life and matter more than the plethora of other smaller granules that have slipped through the 2020 sieve.
Hopefully the pandemic has helped us to see that our worth is not about our appearances, achievements and accomplishments. The string of degrees I do or don’t have behind my name, the size of my house, car or bank balance count for very little in the light of the eternity we have so poignantly been forced to consider. Humanity knows that our current global crises are beyond what we can fix. Solutions and cures are elusive. The groundswell of evil is often more than we can bear. No human being will turn this tide, and the stage is set for the appearance of the One who holds history in His hands. In the light of this, isn’t it true that we have a deep, gut-level sense that we are indeed closer to the culmination of the age than ever before? How then should we live? These are important days, crucial times.
I would like to suggest that our living needs to be simpler and slower. Less running around, less buying, less consuming, less frivolous “chasing after the wind”. Did we not discover that we don’t need the half of what we thought we did? What we realised freshly, is that our lives need to be centred around what we truly value, our big rocks. We need to slow down, quieten our souls and pursue devotion. We need to simplify our lives, cutting away what complicates and keeps us from truly living the life our Jesus came to give us. This may be the trouble that old wounds inflict upon us. Allow Him to touch your broken places with His balm. Surrender your grievances. Forgive those who have wronged you. Sometimes, we need to toss aside the fruitless thinking patterns that have plagued our weary minds. Let them go. Change your ways! Perhaps your pursuit of simplicity will involve decluttering your home, schedule, or your digital world. Be done with what distracts and drains you of energy. Maybe there is too much noise in your world. Turn the volume down. Silence your inner critic. Quit social media.
We need to be with the One who truly satisfies. We need to drink deeply of the fountain of Life He provides. We need to receive the Love and Grace that heals our hearts and makes us whole so that we in turn can love the people in our worlds.
We need to return to simple ways and “inhabit the moment” (John Mark Comer). Perhaps that moment is alone with Him. Lean in, open your heart to Him. Hear His whispers. Maybe that moment is a conversation with a loved one. Give them the gift of your full attention. Listen intently. Perhaps that moment is watching the dawn breaking or the moon rising. Breathe it in, be fully and completely in it!
We simply cannot ignore the lessons of 2020. As life returns increasingly to its usual rhythm, and paranoia eases, let us not forget what we have seen through the magnifying glass of critical thinking. 2020 has peeled back the extraneous layers, and we see with clarity, don’t we now?
We know what to value, what to pursue, what to leave behind.
Craft your life accordingly, live without regret!
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