God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
So, I think we can all agree, 2020 was a bad year. Even if you think too many deaths were wrongly attributed to COVID-19, we still had 300,000 more deaths in the United States than normal in 2020. (CDC Excess Deaths Report) So whatever you might believe is the cause, 300,000 more people died in 2020 than what we’d see in a normal year. I know people who died in 2020. A friend of mine knows a whole family who died in 2020. And more people than normal will continue to die because in some areas there are no ICU beds available. Some hospitals are so overwhelmed if you live in their neighborhood their ability to help you is compromised if you have a medical emergency. We saw bad cops behaving badly in 2020. People close to me were out of work in 2020 . It was a difficult year, no doubt about it.
But If You’re a Christian You Believe This:
If you’re reading this you’re probably a Christian. And if you’re a Christian, you believe that one of the great benefits of following Jesus is that when you go through tough times, you don’t have to go alone. Jesus will go through those difficult times with you. I believe that. I’ve always been taught that. And my Christ following friends and family believe that too.
But let me ask you something. During 2020 did you feel the presence of Jesus with you? Did you experience His peace and His joy in 2020?
I’ve noticed that even though we believe Jesus will walk with us through our trials, our countenance and attitude sometimes don’t reflect Jesus’ presence with us during the hard times.
I think there are a couple of reasons for this.
If You Want to Get Wet . . .
One reason is because we don’t run to God when the storm descends upon us. We tend to run straight to Google. We rely on our own ingenuity. Or we run to a friend. Or we run to a distraction. Those are all good things to do (even distractions can be helpful sometimes) but if we leave God out of it, or if we leave Him out on the periphery, we’re unlikely to experience the peace that passes understanding when He’s present with us.
As C. S. Lewis wrote:
If you want to get warm, you must stand near the fire; if you want to get wet, you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.C. S. Lewis
So during the trial, the more surrendered we are to Christ, the more intimate we are with Jesus, the greater our confidence and comfort as we walk through our suffering.
Taking inventory is another way in which we miss out on God’s presence and His peace in the midst of difficulty. We all take inventory in our heads, every one of us. Some of us tend to take inventory on the bad, and some of us tend to take inventory on the good. I’ve noticed that those people who take inventory on the good resemble Jesus much more than those who take inventory on the bad. My observation has also been: those who take inventory on the good experience God’s peace and joy and power and love much more than those who take inventory on the bad.
Even when they’re suffering.
When we dwell on the good God has done for us during a trial, we’re more grateful toward Him. Our love is stronger for Him. It’s the same with the people around us too. When we take inventory on the good in people, it’s 1,000 times easier to love them the way Jesus wants us to than when we take inventory on the bad in people.
So toward that end, here’s an inventory of my 2020.
My 2020 Inventory
Jesus: The first item in my 2020 inventory I want to mention is Jesus. He did indeed walk with me through 2020 and I can’t imagine what it would have been like without him. He gave Kathy and I a new morning routine that helped us to connect to him in new and more intimate ways. (You can read about that here if you want to: Prayer) He helped us immensely. He comforted us. He blessed us. He was merciful toward us. He was generous with us. He exceeded my expectations in 2020. Jesus was for us in 2020. I thank God for Jesus walking with me through 2020.
You: The second item in my 2020 inventory I want to mention is you! I’m amazed at the love God showed me through you. I launched the Love Like Jesus book near the beginning of 2020 and you helped me do it! You were so encouraging and supportive. And your engagement on this blog and other social media also communicated the love of Christ to me. You shared the love of Jesus with me and with others in ways I didn’t expect you to. I thank God for you and for all the love you showed me in 2020.
My family: My family was amazing in 2020. Here we are celebrating Gabe on his birthday early in the year before the COVID restrictions were in place. Because of the pandemic we’ve been a closed herd for awhile now, but what a great closed herd to be a part of! I’m so grateful to God for my family. He poured His love out on me through my family throughout the entire year. Most recently during our Christmas celebration (you can read about that here if you want to: Jesus is Here With Us Now). Also Gabe, Nate, and I read The Great Divorce during 2020. What a great book! And I enjoyed so many great deep discussions about God with my two great sons. All the opportunity to hang out with Gabe and Nate talking about everything from Jesus to bicycling has been one of the best parts of last year. The wives they chose are amazing too! Both beautiful inside and out. Both lovers of Christ and of people. Both having big hearts. Both a huge blessing to be around in 2020. And my grandson Andrew, it’s impossible to stay depressed or to take inventory on the bad when Andrew’s around. Best grandson ever! I thank God for my family.
My wife: Kathy was amazing during 2020. Here she is pictured in a BB-8 costume to cheer us all up during the lockdown. (Andrew’s in the Kylo Ren costume.) She’s one of the most creative productive thoughtful funny intelligent people I’ve ever met. During 2020 we didn’t eat out very often but Kathy cooked an amazing meal every day. She helps me and supports me in a thousand ways. I don’t know what I’d do without her. And she’s beautiful besides. I thank God for giving me a most amazing wife. Proverbs 18:22.
Friends: “Friends,” not a great word to describe the people around me who aren’t family — because — they’re like family. No wonder we see friends called “brothers” in the scriptures. Just one friend, Jay Mark, is pictured here helping me build raised garden beds for Kathy. But God poured His love out upon me through many friends during 2020. My Saturday morning men’s group friends helped me to become a little more like Jesus in 2020. Some of my firefighter friends helped me with wise advice during 2020. A friend in the Las Vegas area helped me to help another friend in the Las Vegas area. Friends I recreate with help me to decompress. I thank God for my friends. I thank God for my brothers.
Travel: In January, before COVID hit us, I had an opportunity to travel to Mexico with Jay. We were inspired by the way the people there love like Jesus. These two men on either side of me, Arturo and Mario, are working on a Medical/Dental Clinic for their neighbors in need. Jay and I were exposed to some interesting ministries during our visit and we also did some goofing off while we were there. I enjoyed time with Kathy and my mom during this trip too. It wasn’t long after that, Kathy and I visited family in Las Vegas. Within a few weeks after that second trip, the coronavirus was all over the news and we stopped traveling for the most part. At the time I felt like those two trips were scheduled too close together. Looking back I thank God for the opportunity to travel before the country shut down.
The Egg Drop Challenge: We did an egg drop challenge in 2020. I thank God for that adventure. If you’re interested, you can watch the video of our eggs falling from Gabe’s second story window.
A New Fridge (and something else): We bought a new fridge in 2020. It wouldn’t fit through the opening to our kitchen so in a brilliant moment of inspiration I decided to enlarge the opening. I thank God for the new fridge and for helping me to repair the damage.
My mom’s alive: Her house was in the middle of all those flames you see in this picture. It burned to the ground. I thank God she’s alive and healthy.
Muggles: God gave us Muggles in 2020, a dog with a big personality. I thank God for how He used Muggles to brighten our world during the pandemic.
Jiu Jitsu: Before the lockdown Andrew gave me a lesson in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. That’s me laid out on the floor in pain because Andrew has me in an arm-bar. I tapped out quickly. I thank God for the opportunity I had to enjoy this new sport while it was still available.
Books: We read some great books in 2020. I thank God for books!
A Long List
I could go on, and I have gone on in discussions with Kathy about all the ways God blessed us in 2020. He is so generous with me and the people around me. He’s so gracious toward us. His mercy rests on us.
His steadfast love endures with us forever.
Whatever happens in 2021, I want to go through it with Jesus.
And I want to go through it taking inventory on the good He rains down upon me.
Truly He is good to me.
Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!Psalm 107:1