Make Sure to Pack the Right Bags
I love to travel! It’s one of the things I miss most during these challenging times, and I am looking forward to the time (hopefully soon!) when we’ll be able to travel to amazing places safely again. I just love waking up in new places and experiencing new things. I love meeting new people at hotel lobbies or tourist spots and learning about their lives and experiences. It’s so fun!
There are, however, certain challenges that go along with traveling—whether you are traveling for work or pleasure—and one of them is getting clothes and personal items from one place to another. I have flown many, many times, and there is a certain low level of anxiety that creeps up as I head to a baggage claim area to hopefully find that my luggage has made the flight with me! Most of the time, that is the case, and our joyful reconnection signifies the start of a new adventure, or a return from one.
Occasionally though, that creeping anxiety solidifies in the pit of my stomach as I expectantly watch others’ reunions with their bags until the baggage claim light grows dim and the circular route crawls to a stop, leaving me bereft of my special souvenirs and garments. Fortunately, this is usually no real cause for alarm, and, thankfully, many airlines will even deliver my luggage to my home or hotel once it is located trying to take its own adventure without me.
Leaving Behind Luggage from Flight 2020
This has gotten me thinking about the year of 2020 as an adventure in itself. It started out with such excitement and expectancy. People instinctively saw 2020 as an opportunity to realign vision and find their God-given purpose. I heard many discuss and pray for God’s vision for the church, the country, and their own lives and for our vision to be “20/20.” I believe God has been granting that request and is continuing to work on our collective vision as a church. His plans and purposes for us in the world, and for our personal vision for our cities, families, and homes, are still underway!
As we enter into the new adventure of 2021, there are a few pieces of 2020 luggage we need to leave at the carousel of flight 2020 to make our adventure in 2021 the best it can be.
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14
It is a recurring theme in many of our blogs and books that unforgiveness will steal God’s Best for your life right out from under your nose. Greg and I have learned the power of forgiveness and seen first hand how remaining in unforgiveness keeps us from achieving all God wants us to do and be in our lives. Unforgiveness also steals our joy and peace and makes every day unbearably hard and painful.
Before we enter into the adventure that is the year 2021, let’s take some time to think about all of our relationships and root out any unforgiveness the Lord reveals to us. Here are some common areas we may find it to get you started:
The year 2020 has been challenging in ways many of us may never have encountered before. My 76-year-old mother said it was the hardest year she could remember, so it’s safe to say it has been an unprecedented experience! Your spouse may have done things this year that hurt you deeply as they were dealing with these unprecedented challenges and if so, they need your forgiveness.
Your family may have also done and said things that hurt you deeply as they were also dealing with stress in the best way they knew how. They need your forgiveness too.
You may have been let go, fired, furloughed, overworked, underworked, or any other number of things that negatively affected you in tangible ways. It happened to many, many people this year as businesses struggled to stay afloat and many eventually closed for good. You need to forgive your boss, both for their sake and yours.
The Covid 19 pandemic and the 2020 elections were incredibly strife-filled affairs and people on both sides of the issues did and said hurtful things to each other. You must forgive and forget what lies behind you and press on into this new year.
In order for us to be able to receive all the good things God has for us in 2021, we have to leave the bag(s) of unforgiveness on the carousel of flight 2020. God has provided the new robes of forgiveness for you to wear, and they are so much brighter and lighter for you in 2021!
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:2-8
When we go through hard seasons, it is natural for us to start to doubt God’s goodness, His good plans for our lives, His power, or even His existence. As humans, we have a natural tendency to interpret God and His intentions through the lens of our circumstance and experience instead of through His Word and through the love shown to us through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. We see the negative things in our lives as proof of God’s aloofness or His lack of concern over us, and it causes us to pick up doubts about His love or good plans for us.
God’s perspective of these very real and painful challenges in our lives is different from our perspective. He tells us above in James to choose joy instead of doubting. Some of the things we need to learn are hard, but as we choose to trust in His goodness in spite of what we see and feel, we will grow in faith and become perfect/mature/complete, lacking in nothing!
Choosing to Trust
Even though we don’t see or understand why God allowed certain things to happen in 2020, we can, and should, choose to trust in His good plans for us. Our story isn’t finished yet. Until we are no longer on this earth, God is still working in and through us to bring about His good plans and purposes on this earth. If the disciples had given in to despair and confusion after the crucifixion, they never would have enjoyed the triumphant glory of the resurrection!
We need to let go of our need to understand 2020 and trust again in the goodness of God and His love for us. The bags of doubt should stay on the carousel of 2020! God has provided faith, hope, peace, and joy as our luggage for 2021 and they are not only lighter, but will actually lift us up into God’s best for us.
When we apply the new habits of forgiveness and faith to our daily lives, we find that we are so much lighter and able to handle the adventure that 2021 will be. As we leave unforgiveness and doubt in 2020, we start to perceive that God is doing a new work in us and in our world in 2021. We may not know what it will lead to, but we can assure our hearts that it will be GOOD! Because God is good and His plans for us are for good too.
‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ Jeremiah 29:11