Matney: The blessings of 2020 and the promise of 2021
If the year just past, 2020, was a chair, we would have just sat down in January, got comfortable in February, and suddenly, the legs broke out from under us in March. And, we fell to the floor with a thud and a groan and gracefully sprawled out all over the place!
If 2020 started out as an interstate highway, maybe I-70 or I-25, it suddenly became a narrow, bumpy, dirt path and everything slowed down and even came to a standstill. The year 2020 had some hard places in it. Jesus talked about something similar.
In Luke 8, in the Parable of the Seed, the Sower and the Soil, Jesus said the hard paths and rocky soil represent hardened, unfruitful areas of our lives. Maybe it was just your day-to-day life, or maybe you lost work, or a friend or loved one, due to the pandemic, but life was hard. Or, maybe the political environment, or a relationship with a friend or loved one has been especially stressful, but whatever the reason, 2020 may have seemed like a hard, unproductive year.
I’ve certainly felt that at times. But the hard places in 2020 didn’t stop God’s blessings then, nor the harvest of blessings he has planned for us in the New Year. One of my favorite “end-of-the-year” verses is found in Psalm 65:11.
“You crown the year with a bountiful harvest; even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.”
The hard paths were where people walked, the soil was packed, and nothing grew. Though 2020 has been a hard path, there have been many blessings from it. God has used the hard places to help us care for each other more, pull together more and pray together more.
In addition to being a pastor, I am privileged to be the director of 4 Eagle Senior Care. Here are just a few of the 2020 blessings we experienced in senior adult ministry.
- 4 Eagle Senior Care, in cooperation with our local churches and individuals, was blessed to deliver over 1,700 meals to seniors throughout the valley. Each of those meals represents personal connections during a time of isolation and separation. Many friendships, prayers and positive connections were made with seniors and their families as we shared the love of God with each other.
- Many of our local pastors, churches and individuals pulled together and purchased over 215 City Market and Walmart gift cards for our seniors throughout the valley. With a few cash donations that came in, we were able to give over $5,700 worth of gift cards and Christmas cards toward blessing our precious seniors. Thank you to pastors, churches and others for caring so much!
Also, through a grant 4 Eagle Senior Care received, we’ve been able to help several seniors with their rent and mortgage payments after they lost work due to the COVID pandemic.
The hard places of 2020 have resulted in more compassion, prayers, friendships and pulling together than we might have seen otherwise. Let us give thanks.
And, the new year ahead? If the pressures of the pandemic and the politics at the beginning of 2021 are any indication of another hard year ahead of us, how can we soften the soil of our own souls and make sure the promise and potential of the new year is fulfilled in us? It starts with the two most important New Year’s resolutions a person could make. These two resolutions — if practiced locally in our homes, churches, neighborhoods and in government at every level — have the power to transform our lives individually and collectively. They are based on the two great commandments Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:36-39.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, what are the two greatest resolutions you could make for the new year?
- To love God first and foremost
- To love my neighbor as myself
Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and everything else you need will be added unto you,” Matthew 6:33. When we put God first, front and center in our life, so many other things begin to fall into place. I’ve seen it happen over and over.
And, when you are determined to love your neighbors as yourself, so many doors of hope and happiness open. Life takes on new meaning and joy, and the hard pathways become fruitful fields of promise, possibilities and purpose.
Prayer: “Heavenly Father, thank you for the blessings of 2020 and the promise of 2021. Thank you for the harvest of happiness, friendships, prayers and compassion that is coming out of the hard pathways of life. Help us to be truly grateful to you and to one another. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”
Dan Matney is the pastor at New Life Assembly of God in Avon. Email him at email@example.com.
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