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2020 – Let’s Get It Over With!

by Bob Russell

From www.bobrussell.org

     I saw a funny cartoon the other day.  It read, “Remember when your mom threatened to spank you into next year?  I wonder if that’s still an option?”

     Let’s be honest…2020 hasn’t been a great year for most of us—a global pandemic, racial unrest, election rancor, and churches shut down.  I hear many people say, “I can’t wait until this year is over.”  To be honest, I muttered that myself when I got the Coronavirus.  This has been a rough year for a lot of us.

     But I think we make a big mistake if we spend the next three months longing for 2020 to be over.  It’s silly to wish our lives away when the turn of the calendar doesn’t really make that much difference.

     Years ago, I read a story about a teenage girl who absolutely despised school.  She couldn’t wait to graduate and get on with her life.  Her life goal was to get married and have children.  She knew that’s when her life would be fulfilling.  So school was a bore.  She grudgingly tolerated her classes and classmates, longing to get her education behind her.

     Not long after graduation, she got married and quickly had three children.  However, she was surprised at how demanding the little ones were—changing dirty diapers, cleaning up messes, wiping runny noses, fixing another meal, and dealing with constant interruptions. It wasn’t as fulfilling as she anticipated!  And she found herself saying, “I can’t wait ‘til all three of these kids are in school so I can relax a little and enjoy myself.”

     Finally, the last child was in first grade, and she was about to unwind and enjoy life for the first time when her husband said, “Honey, I think you need to go to work so we can afford to send these kids to college one day.”  Well, she certainly didn’t want to get a job.  But she had to admit it would be expensive to send the kids to college, so she reluctantly went to work. 

     She hated her job.  She found herself saying, “I can’t wait until the kids are finished with college and the bills are paid so I can quit work and enjoy life.  Finally, the last bill was paid, and she marched into the boss’ office and said, “I quit!”  “Oh, no!  You don’t want to quit now,” the boss insisted.  “If you work another seven years, you’ll get a much better retirement package!”  She had to agree it would be nice to have all that extra money. So, she stayed on.  She marked “RETIREMENT!” on the future calendar and yearned for that day to come. 

     At last, she and her husband retired together.  They moved to Florida and spent the rest of their years sitting on the front porch of their cottage leafing through the family album, reminiscing about the good old days. 

     Why is it life looks good in prospect or in retrospect but seldom in the present?  The Psalmist wrote, “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 NASB). 

  1. Wallace Hamilton reported on the eye-opening results of a survey taken in London, England in the early 1960s. The Brits were asked to identify their most memorable experiences in life. Surprisingly many related that some of their most significant—and even favorite—moments occurred during the terrifying bombing raids in World War II.  They explained, “Every day was precious because we had no assurance of tomorrow.  Relationships were appreciated more.  Though we lived in constant fear, we soaked up every day and lived more alertly.  We took nothing for granted.  We were fully alive.”

     I wonder if 20 years from now, many of us (or our children) will say, “Some of my favorite memories occurred during the pandemic of 2020.  We stayed home more.  We were closer as a family.  I enjoyed the card games we played.  It seemed like we weren’t so busy then.  I really liked worshipping together as a family.  Somehow we were more fully alive.”  

     So don’t wish 2020 away even though it hasn’t been an easy year.  Make the most of it.  Every day matters.  Don’t waste even one.   Some of your most precious experiences could happen in the next three months.  We have no guarantee 2021 is going to be better.  And just maybe this is all we get. Wouldn’t it be silly to spend the next three months waiting for next year if you die on January 2, 2021, or if next year is worse?

     James warned, “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.’  Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that’”  (James 4:13-15). 

      Have a good day!  Today!

      Bob Russell is retired Senior Minister of Southeast Christian Church, Louisville, KY.

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Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

2 corinthians 1:3-4