Longing & Hope As 2020 Ends
[I shared this reflection in our 2020 year-end update to Saturate prayer and financial partners. Here's the whole update. If you're interested in partnering with us in prayer, click here; if financially, here. Thank you!]
Like you, we are still trying to wrap our heads around this strange past year, which concurrently felt like a whirlwind and also that time stopped. Jess has said that she's more excited about Christmas break (which starts today) than the kids are -- which makes sense given the surprise load of teaching she led in this fall. We've experienced various layers of sadness, loss, separation, frustration, worry and anxiety, stress, loneliness, and more. But also like you, there were sweet moments throughout the year. My role with Saturate isn't what I expected when you read our first prayer team email a year ago. And God was gracious to open doors and produce fruit, in new, different, and in some ways, better ways than what we'd planned. Because God does that. Our family members got to know each other better.
We truly enjoyed things like a slower pace, walks, & family movie nights. We realized -- through both a few opportunities & longing for more -- the sweetness of laughter and deep relationships over good meals with better friends. We got to go to Colorado with some friends. We got to see God continue his mission and plant new churches. We often tell planter/pastor couples we get to serve, "ministry is always a weighty joy or a joyful weight." This past year was a reminder: that isn't just true of ministry; it's true of all of life in a fallen world. Depending on the moment, one "side" simply seems to outweigh the other. There's always brokenness AND always beauty. There's always difficulty AND always hope. Jesus has already inaugurated his kingdom on earth AND it's not fully here yet.
But as I write this year's final prayer team update we're in the final week of Advent. In the past I have honestly often struggled to conjure up the yearning that God's people felt for a Messiah, which is "supposed to be experienced during Advent."
I didn't know how to associate with such an overt longing for something better. That changed a bit this year. I cannot resonate with 400+ years of a silent God between the Old and New Testaments. I cannot comprehend not the uncertainty of awaiting a Messiah.
But this year, I can understand more fully than ever, longing for wrongs to be made right; for God's kingdom to break every earthly power; for something better than what currently is. I feel the need for a Savior of the world more in 2020 than ever before.
In C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, the White Witch's cursed Narnia to be "always winter but never Christmas." That's how this year has felt. But this Christmas week I'm reminded that "Christmas" -- the answer to our problems; the melting of the proverbial snow of this forever winter of a year -- isn't found in a COVID vaccine, an election result, a new movie, book, or law, "getting back on track in 2021," or any other good thing on earth. Those things are momentary, and will let us down. Winter remains.
We need a king, who can break the witch's curse, redeem the brokenness, and renew the land. Narnia was freed when Aslan arrived; our hope is better and eternal: it's in the truer lion of Judah. Like God's people 2000 years ago, we end Advent this week sad and yearning, but finding hope in God's promised Messiah. As we celebrate Christmas this week, we hope and pray the same for you. Merry Christmas, friends!
[Related: Saturate's final webinar this year was a refreshing reminder of God's goodness and grace, even in the ups and downs of 2020. I'm likely biased, but I recommend it!]