Most of us have heard the following advice many times, “Look both ways before you cross the street”. Today, we need to heed that good advice again. Here we are, we’ve finished 2020, and we can look back over many turbulent days. We can also look forward to a New Year not yet cluttered with events. It is my intent in this devotional to briefly look both ways as we cross into the New Year.
The 2020 year, in many respects, has enveloped our minds in a kind of fog. Covid-19 has and continues to be lethal, leaving a path of sickness and destruction. This global pandemic has infected tens of millions, and the number of deaths staggers the mind. There have been three deaths in our family due to Covid. Now, a new Covid strain is exploding in Europe. Lockdowns, isolation, and mental distress seem to be the order of the day. Economic woes and political upheavals have inundated us. The fog of confusion and uncertainty as we look back threatens to obscure our view of things that are of eternal importance.
How about an attempt to look forward to see what the New Year might reveal? I would like to offer some reflections about peering into what seems to be an obscured future. For more than a decade, my wife and I have been privileged to spend time on Dauphin Island off the coast of Mobile, Alabama. During our days on Dauphin Island, I grew accustomed to looking across the bay each morning and seeing the bridge that connects the island to the mainland. When heavy fog comes in, it is impossible to see this vital lifeline connector. I knew the causeway and bridge were there, but not being able to see them can be a little unsettling.
My discomfort is partly due to past history. A dozen hurricanes and tropical storms have battered the island in the last 50 years. September 12, 1979, a bruising Category 3 hurricane named Frederic roared up the Gulf of Mexico and across Dauphin Island before surging into Mobile Bay. The 120-mile-per-hour winds and 12-foot storm surge destroyed the only bridge to the island and destroyed 140 houses. For several years, the only way on and off the island was by boat. The people on the island have been assured that the present three mile long bridge (1982) is hurricane-proof and storm-proof.
I soon learned the fog that blankets Dauphin island in the morning hours would eventually dissipate. The rising sun would melt away the fog. It was always comforting when the fog lifted and I could see the bridge. In like manner, the spiritual fog that threatens to block our vision into the new year can also be dispelled. Although surrounded by the fog of 2020 as we move into 2021, we must have faith to believe Jesus is there, even though circumstances seem to obstruct our vision. We need to be assured that He loves us and wants to clear away the fog.
As a foggy day progressed on Dauphin Island, the sun came up and caused the fog to lift. I could see the bridge was still there. In like manner Scripture promises, “But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing Him directly just as He knows us” (1 Corinthians 13:12b, MSG).
How do we keep the spiritual fog from blocking our view of Christ in the New Year? Let me share some things that help me. I believe they can also help you.
- Read and anchor in Psalm 23. This Psalm is one of the most beloved of all scriptures. If you have not already memorized it, do so. It can help clear away the fog.
- Look up and commit to memory Isaiah 46:4 – “Even to your old age and gray hairs I am He, I am He who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you”.
- Trust God’s promise in His unchanging Word, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).
- Take time to sing a favorite hymn or gospel song, like: Blessed Assurance; It is Well With My Soul; Now I Belong To Jesus; On Christ The Solid Rock I Stand; He Hideth My Soul; or Rock Of Ages. (In my case, it may be better to read the words and hum.) *If you don’t have a hymn book, contact me at NHIM and I will find you one. NO ONE SHOULD BE WITHOUT HYMNAL!
- Adopt an old Hebrew perspective of moving into the future. ‘You walk backwards into the future’. While you may not be able to see exactly what the future holds, but you can see the past. You can see God’s faithfulness as you look back across the years. He has always been faithful. You can rest in the assurance that He was there yesterday and He will be there tomorrow. You can step into 2021 knowing He is going ahead of you. Hear Him say, “I’ve got this!”
Allow me to paraphrase some of the lyrics of a Johnny Nash recording: “I can see clearly now, the fog is gone, I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the thick clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna’ be a bright, bright sunshiny day.”
“Look both ways before you cross the street”
~ Brother Roy