Reflections of an Unexpected Year

The lives of most people on this planet have been changed by events of this past year – a pandemic, repeated lockdowns and isolations, businesses opening and closing (some permanently), schools conducting classes online, then in person, then back online and back in person, but with restrictions. Holidays were allowed to be celebrated with immediate family only, then larger groups were allowed to meet again. Congregations conducted services online, then in person with restricted numbers. You name it and somehow, in some manner, our lives concerning it were affected

We are used to making decisions and plans based on what we are doing or expect to be doing, where, how, when and with whom. We plan not just for tomorrow, but for next month, next year and even further in the future, in anticipation of the expectations of our lives. In 2020, all of our plans and short-term goals changed. Some paused and reflected on the truth of the statement in James 4:13-15 – “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” 14 Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. For you are just a vapor that appears for a little while, and then vanishes away. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” The past year gave us a hard taste of that reality. Yet, despite grasping the wisdom available to us in the Scriptures we rely on our own understanding and try to carry on with our lives. Instead of being thankful for what we have been given, we get weighed down by the cares and concerns of this world often forget to say “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that“.

Many times we do pause to see what the Lord desires for us to and we take a step in one direction or another, based on His leading. But then, questions often creep in causing us to conclude that what we planned doesn’t seem possible. I know what it is like trying to figure out the next step, the when, the how, the where, while wanting all my questions to be answered immediately, so I won’t have to worry about them later. During the past two years, I chose to focus entirely on my soap and candle business, along with translation work, and it all was going well. Then, along came the Covid pandemic and many things seemed to come to an abrupt halt. I prayed again about going into teaching, as I had my teaching certificate from a few years ago, but never formally pursued teaching at a school. There were too many unanswered questions about what such a change in direction would require from me. I applied to one school I that I had previously considered and was accepted. I was also offered to be a homeroom teacher, which I agreed to. But, this job required me to move cities, find an apartment, attend a different fellowship, as well as many other decisions. Even though I didn’t have all the answers, I firmly believed this is what God wanted me to do. So I knew He would work out the details. And He did. Everything started to come into place in its own time. This doesn’t mean there weren’t hard moments in teaching, in relocating, in changing day-to-day involvements. Things I expected to go one way and went the other way. But I knew that despite it all, I was and I am where God wants me to be.

It is an almost incredible comfort to have this assurance of being where God wants you to be and doing what He wants you to do. As I talk with believers about this past year, most of them also express that their lives are different today from what they expected it to be. I always try to encourage others to walk through the door that God opened for them. He doesn’t make mistakes. They may not see how it will work out, but we serve a God Who sees the end from the beginning, Who opens doors no one can close, and closes doors no one can open. We can rest in Him and be confident that He sovereignly guides us through all the changes we experience in this life.

There is a nice saying I heard from a movie called “Overcomer”, which says: “Your identity will be tied to whatever you give your heart to”. It is true. Our identity is in Messiah, no matter where we are, what work we do, where we serve at or the things we have a talent for. If our heart is on a certain job we are hoping for, a person, a skill we have or a place we are in, and those things change, will who we are change as well? If we give our heart to God, Who never changes, not even in a pandemic, we will stand firm when the world is shaking, because He is the source and the place of our identity. There is always much for which to be thankful. Are we?

© Hannah Kramer