This Bible verse has come to me many times over the past few days. In fact, it is one of my favorite verses that I’ve come to see in a new light, both because of personal circumstances and the collective experience that has been COVID-19.
I think the issue of “pressing forward” is something that we’re all grappling with these days. 2020 has been a year for the history books, and not in a good way. We’ve all faced strange circumstances and turmoil, and likely there are a lot of you out there who have faced personal issues in the midst of this chaos. It hasn’t been easy as everything we’ve known has been turned upside down. Letting go of what’s behind is hard enough, but how do we strain ahead, especially when we don’t know what that goal is?
This is a question I believe we all face. In fact, while writing this blog, I heard Soundgarden's "The Day I Tried to Live," and thought it a perfect theme song for 2020. We try to live, only to learn things about ourselves and the world around us that are revealing and surprising. In March all of a sudden all that was normal - wasn't. Now what does it all mean?
Whether you were or are considering life changes or not, change has come to all of us. We keep hearing the phrase “new normal,” but what does this mean in general? Or better yet, to us personally? What if you're content with the life you have, and you don’t know what all of this 2020 chaos means for staying the course?
Sometimes change comes for you, whether you want it or not. I can honestly say that out of all the change I’ve seen in my 45 years on this Earth, most of it came to me. Sure, there were things I pursued, but on the whole, most of the change I’ve experienced was not stuff I was actively striving for. Something happened to thrust me into a new season, and I had to adapt. Now, the unpredictability of COVID-19 has put us all in that boat. Whether you wanted change or not, it’s here. And if you were pursuing it, your plans were likely derailed, and you’ve had to adjust. Maybe it was less than you expected, not what you expected, or perhaps it didn’t happen at all. Life’s like that, and it’s been happening at quite a rate of “what the heck’s” a minute these past few months. So we wrestle with the question of creating a better life when we don’t know what we’re striving for. Or where we’re headed. Or, in some cases, where we are right now.
This is what walking by faith is truly about. And the answer is really simple. All we really need to do is be obedient to the prompting of the Spirit on our life day by day. This is a time where the day of small things are what we have, and how that adds up to a better life depends on our ability to make that daily walk well.
I often talk about taking advantage of opportunity and being diligent about small things, but in prayer I’ve seen that’s become a primary issue in these uncertain times. We literally don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming weeks or months. Today is the best we have. It’s a nightmare for planners (like myself), who like to map things out and plan ahead. Now we’re learning to loosen our grip and trust in our “Holy Spirit” instincts to guide us day by day. You can try to do things the old way and see if they work, but if they don’t, then you better hold things loosely and be ready to try a new way for a new day.
Others are looking through the other end of the glass and realizing that they need to get moving on goals and dreams deferred. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that more people are flocking toward planning for things they thought they’d do later, like achieving personal, goals, gaining professional credentials, buying homes, getting further education, or even (ironically) funeral planning (yes, that has picked up in the age of COVID-19, as I’ve learned from Dad’s recent passing). Heck, even I’ve taken advantage of the quarantine to pursue writing goals and projects that I thought I wouldn’t have time or opportunity to pursue for months. My writing has benefitted most from this COVID crisis, as I’ve pressed on to accelerate my writing schedule simply because I can, and have achieved some goals that I probably wouldn’t have found if not for the extra time from the quarantine situation these past few months. Wise people take advantage of opportunity, even if it’s born of unfortunate circumstances. I’m glad people are looking forward and planning ahead, even if we have to balance the see-saw of unpredictable circumstances that may tilt our efforts in ways we don’t anticipate.
So what to do? Our best every day, that’s what. As the song says, keep going one more time around. Actually, this is a good way to live every day whether we’re in a worldwide crisis or not, but I think our eyes are finally open to see this now. No, we may not be able to clearly see our tomorrow, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we commit to walking in obedient faith to do our best every day. That’s what makes the small things add up to a better life. That’s what puts this mosaic into a better picture of unimagined blessing, joy, contentment, and abundance for tomorrow. That’s how we not only stand, but manage to thrive, despite times that try to break us down.
So hang in there. One more time around (might do it).
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.