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Welcome to the year 2020

By Michael Brooks
Pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster

It was so long ago that the principal at the elementary school greeted us at a school program and said, “This is the class of 2000!” All us parents laughed, not having thought of what lay in store 12 years ahead. The graduation year came and went without major incident, despite the Y2K fears. Now we stand on the verge of another momentous year: 2020.

There’s something encouraging about a new year. Maybe the turning of the calendar page or putting a new blotter on the desktop is psychological — we think of new beginnings. We think about aspects of our lives that can be different.

A friend has lost more 40 pounds in the last few months. He told me he realized he’d been a slave to food and got winded when bending to tie his shoes. Now he looks and feels better and sleeps without his sleep apnea machine. All it took was a good and hard look at his alternatives, and he made a new choice.

We do this, too, with money. We can choose the latest fashion, the largest house and the shiniest automobile in the neighborhood, living beyond our means, or we can get realistic with our needs and quit trying to impress.

Another friend told about going to his insurance agent to update information after purchasing a new car.

The agent asked who the lien holder was, and he said none — he paid cash. The agent remarked he didn’t hear this much. My friend said he heard the late financial counselor Larry Burkett years ago encouraging listeners to continue making car payments to themselves after their cars were paid off, thus saving for the next purchase. Burkett helped many people get out of debt with this and other practical advice. Dave Ramsey does this today, and most often at a higher decibel level.

Relationships offer fertile ground for change as well. I’ve known sisters and brothers from the same families who grew angry over this and that and ended relationships. The older I get the more puzzled I am over this. Life is short and family is important. Like the prodigal son in Jesus’s story discovered, home and family may be all we have in a time of need.

When seeking restoration, it’s normally not helpful to dredge up and analyze the past. It’s more beneficial to be humble, to express heartfelt sorrow for brokenness and to ask permission to start again.

Another relationship that may need attention is with the God who gave us life. We’re assured he stands ready to greet us with mercy in the new year. He wants us to walk the uncharted paths of 2020 in partnership with him.