by Billy Walker
SOUTHGATE, MI – If you rated the past year of 2020 - on a scale of 1 (being the worst year ever) to 10 (it was covered with awesome sauce) - what kind of a rating would you give it? Thinking that probably most of you are not going to be giving this year high marks, and rightfully so. We did this exercise in church a couple years ago. While there are always those on the extreme high or low end, the average – even in a normal year - was just over a 6, definitely room for improvement. Thinking if we took the average of all those reading this, it would be considerably lower than that. Here’s the question; is it possible to have a year that gets a 10, and even of more importance, is there any way to have a serious rebound from this past year? Now let's be honest, some of you could win the Billion-dollar Powerball Lotto and you still wouldn't rate the year a 10 because it's just not in your nature to give too much credit to anything or anyone! And hey, money doesn't make you happy (at least that's what everyone without a lot of money says.)
Also… parenthetically, I have bought Powerball Lottery tickets. Maybe we will cover this at another time - but I wanted you to know, I only bought one $2 ticket, did not wait in any line, and my criteria is it has to be more than 1 billion dollars to make it worth my time. Okay, back to the regularly scheduled article.
But what if we just went on the premise that we'd like to improve on the rating we gave this past year. We'd like to take 2021 up a notch or two. I know, I know, “How can it get any worse?”
Here’s the deal, regardless of the circumstances that led us through a year of isolation, disconnection, closures, cancelations, and loss without a plan, human nature will pull us in the same direction unless we are purposeful to make it different. You have heard of ‘atrophy.’ It’s what happens in your garage or basement after about 6 months – all of a sudden you are surprised by the mess you have on your hands and you have to prioritize cleaning it up. Doctors tell us it is what happens with any type of hospital stay. After one week, even healthy college students lose a high percentage of their muscle capacity. Why? Atrophy.
First of all, we have to BELIEVE that it can happen. This sounds so common and cliché, but Scripture reminds us in Proverbs 23:7 that “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he!" We BECOME what we BELIEVE! Doesn’t it stand to reason, if we go into this new year already concluding that it will NOT be better than the last, there's a pretty good chance it won't be. However, if we start to believe that the next 52 weeks will be better in every way than what was, your mind begins to move you down the path to make it happen! We often say "I'll believe it when I see it!" Unfortunately, we have difficulty coming to grips with the fact that seeing isn't believing, but believing is seeing.
Second thing we then need to do is change the BEHAVIOR to accommodate the BELIEF! This involves BREAKING and BECOMING! There were certain things you did last year, things you experienced, you were part of and they held you back from making your year better than it was. While much of it was out of your control, some of it was by choice. What are those things, and can you begin the process of breaking away from them, and not allowing that to happen again this year? Hebrews 12:1 tells us “Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us.”
It could be a habit you developed that you need to remove. A time waster you’ll have to get rid of. Maybe even a relationship that you have that is toxic to becoming all God wants you to be (maybe your relationship to the 24/7 news or social media? I know, now I’m meddling)!
On the positive side of the ledger, what are the things that you need to BECOME so that what you BELIEVE will happen? Just like we develop negative traits that need to be removed, we have to develop positive traits to be improved! Then narrow down those traits. You have 12 months ahead, so what can you do on a monthly basis, a weekly basis, and a daily basis to BECOME the best you.
Praying for God’s blessing is first and foremost, but then taking steps in the direction He desires for you to head is next. Putting feet to our faith is always a high priority with a God who is pleased and moved by that (Hebrews 11:6). The BELIEF that God can has to be accompanied by the BEHAVIOR that God will! BELIEVE it, then BEHAVE like it by BREAKING AND BECOMING!
2020 has been a year filled with changes and challenges; there is no way to minimize its effect on all of us. But let’s not just presume that the coming 12 months will be better – let’s pray as if it all depends on God and then work as if it all depends on us, believing that the Holy Spirit will lead us to becoming the best we can be in 2021. Praying with you to that end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rev. Billy Walker is the Lead Pastor of Calvary Church in Southgate, MI, the Vice President of the Billy Walker Evangelistic Association and a leader with the Church Strengthening team for the BSCM. He and his wife Laurie have two daughters and are lifetime residents of the downriver area.