Rev. Timothy W. Ayers

Peace United Church of Christ

Gladbrook, IA

Every new year inflates our hopes and dreams that this next 365 days will produce a better life, stronger finances, better relationships or some ideal situations. It roars in with bravado but that new year runs smack up against reality. Try to remember how you felt on January 1st, 2020. This was going to be your year. That's what I thought. This was my year. Then reality smacked me upside the head. Instead of seeing 2020 as the great year I had imagined, I now sing out that modified Roy Clark song, “Thank God and Greyhound 2020 is gone.” Don't get me wrong because my 2020 was equal parts fantastic and equal parts miserable.

On the fantastic side I view my coming to Peace Church and finding a permanent place to use my God-given gifts. I even view the outcome of my surgeries as blessings. Then we get thrown up against the wall of COVID. I finally get that new socially distanced lifestyle settled and a derecho hits central Iowa and my backyard. Yes, I stormed into 2020 expecting to finish a novel and start another or more. I expected to get my health back on track. I even thought I would lose some weight. Which I did but not from healthier eating habits. Having my gall bladder removed and then the heart valve surgery did the job for me.

We all hold our heads high and jump right into a new year. We are determined to make things better in this new year. Let me give you some encouragement. 2021 is not 2020. See it has improved already. I can make plans but after last year, I have decided to let God guide my way. That is what James, the half-brother of Jesus, said in James 4:13-15. 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.”

We do burst through the door of a new year all filled with courage and rolled up inside a blanket of plans and schemes. I think we forget James' caution about our overly-confident plans. I entered 2020 ready to make my plans work. Actually I am one of those people that takes New Years Day and plots out my year and my goals. I'm making myself a cautionary note for 2021. I don't even know what will happen tomorrow so relax and watch God work.

There is another cautionary note I need to write to myself. My life is a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 2020 taught me that life is fragile and no matter how many years God allots you, it is still fleeting with not even tomorrow guaranteed.

Yes, 2020 is gone. Praise God for that but now we sit on the precipice of a brand new year. The only thing guaranteed in this new year is that it isn't last year. That is actually enough to make this eternal optimist smile.

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