While I come to each New Year with some amount of disbelief and unpreparedness, there are some years when my shock level is simply beyond measurement. For example, I think back to the year 2000, when everyone was warning of cataclysmic computer crashes and the subsequent turmoil that would inevitably ensue. None of that came to be, of course, and life pretty much went on as it always had. But there was still this palpable trepidation prior to January 1 that some unforeseen reality would dawn that none of us would be quite ready to receive.
I haven’t had quite that anxiety in recent years, but this year I sense it welling up inside of me yet again. I know in my head that the year 2020 is just the one that follows 2019, but every time I look at the number my heart tells me that this is the stuff of science fiction. It seems like just yesterday I had to gear up for Orwell’s 1984 and now I’m looking at a date I never imagined getting to experience. Who knows? Maybe Zagar and Evans’ hit song from the 60’s, “In the Year 2525,” is not a pipe dream, after all.
OK; I’m overdoing it now. But the fact remains we do well to consider planning for eventualities we thought we’d never live to see.
Actually, that advice is Bible-based. Scripture is filled with passages that counsel us to prepare for what God has in store for us, whether Jesus comes today or his return is a thousand years from now. The important thing always to remember is that whatever plans we come up with should be aligned with God’s plans, which go back to the foundation of the world and then extend into eternity.
As we think about this “signal year” before us, I invite us to turn back to the words of Jeremiah, God’s prophet to Jerusalem at an “in-between” time in the life of His people. The Babylonians were sweeping through the Ancient Near East, conquering everyone in their path. What did the future hold for the people of Jerusalem? They looked to God’s prophet for answers that would show them the way forward.
Since my time here at MBBC, I don’t know that we’ve worked our way through one book of the Bible over an extended set of Sundays. Perhaps this is the time for us to do so.Therefore, between the first of January and extending through March, we’ll look at passages from Jeremiah, the “weeping prophet,” that might offer us direction for this time in the life of our church.
As we do so, I’m inviting you to join me in praying about the plans God has for us. I’m choosing to believe, as Jeremiah says, they are “plans to prosper (us) and not to harm (us); plans to give (us) hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Linking our hearts with God will be the best way for us to be able to say, “It can’t be!” because of how once again we are staggered by God’s grace and how every year with Jesus is without question sweeter than the year before.
“The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:31-34).