2020 was going to be a hard-charging year. A brave year. I blogged about it in January, putting it out in the world.
We all know what happened.
Life was interrupted in a humungous, global, full-stop.
This week, as I listened to the fabulous “Hello Goodbye 2020–2021” podcast and used its accompanying workbook, I had to deal with the fallout of 2020. What makes that difficult, said hosts Jo Saxton and Steph Williams O’Brien, is that we are forced to drag the big millstone of 2020 with us into 2021. Covid-19 isn’t magically going to disappear at the stroke of midnight on the last day of the year.
Let’s step back, though, a few thousand years.
Picture the young engaged woman happily planning life with her future husband. Perhaps she is weaving linens for their bed or sewing her trousseau. And then, suddenly, an angelic interruption, one that will change her life forever.
A short time later, the young man—hard at work, perhaps building a home for his bride—receives an unexpected visit from his fiance. “I’m pregnant,” she tells him, “but the baby is from God. There is no other man.” The future he planned painfully interrupted by the announcement. He loves her, but this is too outrageous to be believed. As he sleeps on the heart-wrenching decision he has made, an angel interrupts. “Don’t be afraid. Take Mary as your wife.”
A decree from Caesar Augustus interrupts life in Nazareth, sending the young couple with thousands of others to their ancestral home of Bethlehem. It’s not a convenient time for Mary to travel, belly swollen with child.
A world is moving on as it always did, always does—commerce, worship, family, politics, friendship—and heaven interrupts to send God to earth. Angels interrupt the shepherds work to proclaim the news, and the shepherds further disrupt their livelihoods to rush to view the sight.
We can either welcome interruptions or resist and resent them.
When we choose to rearrange our plans, our lives, our hearts, to welcome them, we open space for God to work wonders.
God is not surprised by our surprises. He sees them, he understands them, he may even have sent them our way. When we embrace the 180º, we align ourselves with God’s purposes over our own.
It doesn’t mean life won’t be difficult. I imagine Mary and Joseph endured plenty of gossip and disdain. The journey to Bethlehem was arduous and costly. Coming to earth cost the Son of God everything.
We don’t know what 2021 will look like. I’ve decided to welcome it with a freedom from goals and resolutions. I am tuning my ear to listen for the whisper of the Spirit of God. I hope by doing so I’ll embrace the interruptions of life as an invitation to see God at work—and to possibly become a part of seeing his will be done and his kingdom come on earth—just as it came to a little town 2,000 years ago.