By Elizabeth Prata
The year 2020 is over today. And here I thought 1968 was bad. I didn’t know nuthin’. I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now.
I think it’s good to ‘take stock’ and look back over the highs and lows, goals met and goals abandoned. People here and people gone. The stream of life is ever moving, an increasingly rapidly rushing brook that widens and bounds faster as it hurtles downhill to its source. It’s helpful to see where I’ve been and then resolutely turn my head to look forward. I’m not one to dwell.
I read some books this year. As always, not as many as I’d like. Turning 60, my body is slowing down and when I return home from work I am often too bleary to read. That’s my excuse anyway. With the COVD lockdown I finally had the time to read more, but didn’t, the lockdown was traumatic and for weeks I found I could not concentrate. It reminded me of the old Rod Serling series Twilight Zone episode, Time Enough at Last. Meek banker Henry Bemis played by Burgess Meredith, loves books yet is surrounded by those who would prevent him from reading them, finds he has time enough at last to read…but a twist ending prevents this, much to his despair. I do want to read more this year. It’s always a goal.
Blood Work: How the Blood of Christ Accomplishes Our Salvation, by Anthony J. Carter was a happy surprise. It’s a good book looking at what the blood of Christ does for us. I paired that with a course from The Master’s Seminary certificate track I’m on, by Mike Riccardi on The Doctrine of Salvation.
Also topping my “Great Book!” list was The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
by Jeremiah Burroughs. Need I say more! 2020 was a year that God graciously provided opportunities to rely on His promises and seek contentment despite outside circumstances.
I’m two-thirds of the way through The Christmas We Didn’t Expect: Daily Devotions for Advent by David Mathis, a writer unknown to me who turned out to be one of the best writers of the year, for me. Our elders bought a box of these to give us at church and I’m so glad they did. Wise elders!
I love reading about the Puritans and I’d picked up Emery Battis’ Saints and Sectaries: Anne Hutchinson and the Antinomian Controversy in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Using court transcripts, diary entries, and historical records, Battis recounts the rise, trial, and fall of Anne Hutchinson. He was such a good writer sometimes I’d just stop to admire a sentence. Or laugh out loud at how he phrased things and made a mental picture.
Of secular faves I tend toward the narrative historical, and The Ship of Dreams: The Sinking of the Titanic and the End of the Edwardian Era Gareth Russell did not disappoint. I’m fascinated by the Titanic tragedy, and this book offered some nuggets new to me. It was a good read.
Another historical narrative that was un-putdownable, was The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann. Amazingly absorbing. It’s one of those books you read slower as you go, not wanting it to end. A thrilling story.
I am a media hog, consuming more TV and movies than is good for me sometimes. Of the stuff I watched, The Crown on Netflix was always good, consistently brilliant. I’ve been binging on the 1980s tv series Full House. I know I know, but sometimes amid all this civil chaos you want something tried and true, silly, fun, and cute. Full House fills the bill. I got hooked on the survivor show from A&E Alone during lockdown. I saw the title and thought, ‘Well, that fits.’
The show turned out to be completely absorbing and educational too. Thanks to the contestants who try to survive alone in remote locations explaining their actions via personal cam, I now know how to build a shelter, what survival priorities are necessary (calories and fat!), and the importance of making a fire and catching enough food. Turns out in 2021, those skills may come in handy. Ahem.
This year has shown me utterly how important church is for personal, spiritual growth. Congregational worship is key to a Christian’s growth and health. Here in Georgia we spent a few weeks locked down but our church opened up soon enough, though without doing small groups, supper on the grounds, or Sunday School. We also missed each other when weddings were postponed or limited to a small number, baby and wedding showers, Bible studies, book clubs, and other social get togethers we’d grown used to attending. Turns out the Bible’s right when it comes to the importance of being together and involved in each other’s life. We need to celebrate the milestones as one, Jesus among us with the Spirit moving like the wind in our hearts, knitting us together. Maybe in 2021 we can resume those things.
Turning 60 was a jolt. Time has passed quickly in this little life. I’d promised myself that at this age I’d do more to protect my quality of life, so I bought an exercise bike and committed to riding it. I need to keep working another ten years if the Lord tarries, and I also want to be healthy, another thing that 2020 taught me. Health cannot be taken for granted, not mental, spiritual, OR physical health.
I don’t know what 2021 holds but the Lord does. I am grateful that He elected to save me in grace and gave me eternal faith. I do not know how I’d have coped with 2020 otherwise. His grace is a perfume that permeates my life and my heart, my home, and my world. His promises are certainties I look upon when the nights are long or the days get dark. His bright future is a balm to living in this sinful world.
My workplace is good, my church is good, my life is good. It’s all due to the Savior, Father God, and the Sprit. Looking back, I have nothing to complain about and everything to be grateful for. Looking ahead, I have hope, faith, promises, and an opportunity to do good in His name.
You have heard my voice,
“Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief,
From my cry for help.”
You drew near when I called on You;
You said, “Do not fear!”
O Lord, You have pleaded my soul’s cause;
You have redeemed my life.