The Best Year Yet. That was the name of the sermon series we heard at the beginning of the year. Seemed like a great idea at the time, but perhaps a little short-sighted now.
Or was it?
If we feel like that ship has now sailed, we may want to ask ourselves which boat we were on in the first place. What was going to make 2020 our best year yet? A great vacation? A solid return on our 401(K)? Perhaps a wedding or an anniversary? If any of these were the source of our anticipation, we are probably a little discouraged at this point. Or just downright depressed.
But the sermon we heard back in January gave us a different view. It said, “If our perspective is not chained to our circumstances, we can declare 2020 the best year yet!”
How’s that for prophetic? Circumstances have certainly changed since that sermon was preached at the beginning of the year. Headlines about global pandemics and social unrest were not on anyone’s radar six months ago. And yet here we are, on June 8, searching for resolutions to these seemingly intractable crises. And if our hope was tied to our circumstances, we are most likely not having our best year yet.
Which is why the story of Jacob’s unforgettable night on his stone pillow is so important to us today. In this story (recounted in Genesis 28:10–22), Jacob, a man on a journey, spends the night in a place called Luz. There was nothing special about that place; it was merely a rest stop on the road to somewhere else. It had no particular meaning other than a place to lay his head.
Until he had his dream.
And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
— Genesis 28:12–15
Suddenly, this nondescript place became the site of a monument to God’s provision and faithfulness. The very stone that had served as a pillow the night before became a pillar to God’s awesomeness.
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it.
— Genesis 12:16–18
Same location. Same rock. Different significance. All because of a change in perspective.
What’s your reaction to what is happening in our world today? In the end, it’s not just about pandemics or policemen or protests. It’s also about perspective. We can view the events of our time from a merely human vantage point (and come away discouraged, demoralized, or fearful), or we can opt for a different perspective prompted by a healthy fear of the One who has been here all along but perhaps hasn’t been rightly acknowledged. If we learn to do this, in word and in deed, we will see our landscape transformed into something holy and significant. And what previously seemed like a detour away from our best year yet could actually, incredibly become just that.
What’s your perspective?