20/20 Vision: Looking Back, Looking Forward
by Dale Reeves
In just a few days, we’ll be turning the page again. We are at the threshold of not only a brand new year, but also the beginning of a new decade as the clock strikes twelve and transports us into the year 2020. Standing at the end of the familiar and on the verge of the new, between the comfortable and the unknown, we feel a strange mixture of both risk and opportunity. We don’t know exactly what lies ahead. What will happen in your home this year? What may happen to someone you love this year? Maybe you’ll get a new job and have to move. Maybe you will add a baby to your family this year, as my wife and I were blessed with two grandbabies in 2019. Or maybe this will be the year when Jesus Christ returns to earth to usher his people into eternity.
Our month of January is named after the Roman god of gates and doorways, Janus, not to be confused with “Julianuary,” the month in which the lemurs of the animated movie Madagascar presented gifts to their King Julien. The Roman god Janus was depicted with two faces, one looking at the year that just was, and the other face looking toward what lies ahead, since doors and gates look in both directions. Janus was seen as the god of new beginnings.
A look back at the past ten years reminds us of many world-changing top stories that took place over the decade known as the twenty-tens. You might remember the stories of the trapped Chilean mine cavers, #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, the missing flight from Malaysia Airlines, or the Iceland volcano. According to thetoptens.com, this is their take on the Top Ten major world events that happened between 2010-2019:
- 2017 Atlantic hurricane season. Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas, Irma hit Florida, and Maria left a wake of mass destruction in Puerto Rico.
- 2016 Zika virus outbreak in Latin America, impacting more than twenty countries.
- 2014 Ebola virus outbreak in many countries in Western Africa, even reaching into the U.S., with more than 28,000 people being infected, and causing the death of more than 11,000 people.
- 2016, Brexit, when more than 17 million Brits voted for the United Kingdom to officially leave the European Union, which is due to happen in January 2020.
- 2010 in Haiti, a magnitude-7.0 earthquake was the most powerful to hit Haiti in a century, killing over 300,000 people.
- 2011 in Japan, a magnitude-9.0 earthquake, with a subsequent tsunami, took the lives of more than 20,000 people.
- 2014–2019, Syrian Civil War, in which to date approximately 560,000 people have been killed.
- 2011, death of Al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, when Seal Team 6 hunted him down in Pakistan and killed him.
- 2016 U.S. Presidential election, in which Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton to become the 45th president of the United States.
- 2010, 2011, The Arab Spring began in Tunisia and spread throughout Arab-speaking countries in North Africa and the Middle East, in which citizens protested the abuses of power and demanded government reform through social media platforms.
What were the events of the past ten years that rocked your personal world? What life-changing decisions happened in your family, in your marriage, in your career, with your children, and in your spiritual journey? The psalmist says in Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). In other words, don’t take any days of your life for granted, and decide to grow in wisdom from the experiences that God gives you. We can all do that as we recall the past memories God has given us.
But, as we turn our attention to a new decade, we must ask ourselves questions like these: What does God want me to do with the talents and gifts he has given me? How does he want me to bless others in my home, in my workplace, and in my school in the coming year? What kind of vision does he want me to have for my personal spiritual journey in the coming year? I believe the watching world needs to see the people of God living joyful, fun-filled lives that draw others to Jesus. What we are doing now is a dress rehearsal for Heaven. We can’t change the past, but we can make plans for a bright future, regardless of what the last decade has looked like in our world.
A few years ago, I shared with our church the perspective that I believe we all should be living a life of celebration so that others could truly see the joy of Christ reflected in us daily. Do people want to know more about Jesus because they see him living in you? Or, are you a party pooper? What are you going to do in 2020? As I see it, you have two choices, and there are five steps for achieving each of them . . .
Option No. 1: How to Be a Party Pooper
- Obsess with the horrible state of our world and nation by consuming the news every day.
- Focus on the negative in social media, and share as much negativity as possible.
- Feel better about yourself by tearing others down.
- Let the devil steal your joy.
- Blame others for everything you don’t like in your life.
I don’t like the sound of those steps, do you? Instead I’d propose these practical tips for making 2020 your best year ever . . .
Option No. 2: How to Shine for Jesus
- Celebrate God’s goodness in your life every day, and worship him with reckless abandon.
- Stop taking yourself so seriously and get your smile on.
- Learn to look at the world again with the innocence of a child.
- Do one thing every week that breaks you out of a boring, mediocre routine.
- Think about others first, and by serving them, you will discover a lot more joy in your life.
I hope to see you this coming Sunday at Christ’s Church at 9:00 or 10:30 am—in person or online—as we talk about a 20/20 vision for 2020. I am looking forward to the new things God will do in and through us in the next year and next decade, because he is a God of new things!