As the tryptophan wears off, we find ourselves in the final month of 2020 clinging to hope. There’s good news coming around the bend concerning humanity’s response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 that decimated lives and brought turmoil and uncertainty to every doorstep since first surfacing on the world stage in late 2019. It appears there are several vaccine options surfacing and the powers that be are discussing how to distribute them so that those who need them most get them first. Even with hope of a better 2021 at our front door, 2020 will be the year we remember as the Year of the Pandemic.
Merriam-Webster touts that pandemic is the word of the year for 2020. The word certainly defines a topsy-turvy year that heightened anxiety, increased depression, led to mass isolation, and spawned political, economic, and societal upheaval.
Pandemic is defined as:
an outbreak of a disease that occurs over a wide geographic area (such as multiple countries or continents) and typically affects a sizable proportion of the population
Does pandemic adequately define your year?
In my last post, I shared that Sweet T and I would be focused on collecting precious shoebox gifts for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child. Over the past few months, a few people asked what impact Franklin Graham’s vocal political expression might have on this year’s collection. Considering Franklin Graham’s consistent advancement of the Gospel and steadfast desire to help those in our world who are suffering, I admittedly found this question puzzling. In a world desperate for the good news of Jesus, would someone really refuse to pack a shoebox gift and deprive a child of a loving present over a difference of opinion? In an era screaming for God’s people to make disciples, would someone rob a child of the opportunity to know Jesus because they disagreed with Reverend Graham over politics?
I am happy to report that although undoubtedly some curmudgeon did just that, many more people chose to build boxes online, given that their home church might be meeting on a limited basis, if at all, during the COVID pandemic. And even with a few churches dropping their boxes off at the nearby OCC Processing Center in Coppell, Sweet T and I were thrilled to collect over 13,000 shoebox gifts from participating partners and local donors who took the time to pack a love-filled, prayer-covered box full of hygiene items, school supplies, and toys. And as is true every year, this was certainly a team effort. We could not have done this on our own. Thankfully, the Lord provided a slew of cheerful volunteers to help receive, cartonize, and load the bounty God provided through His loving and compassionate people.
Thanks to the combined effort of hundreds of people, 13,000 children will know that there is a God who loves them and that He provided His son, Jesus Christ, as the way of reconcilation to Him. 13,000 children—and their families and neighbors—will hear the Gospel and have the opportuntity to experience forgiveness and live forever in the presence of God. How cool is that?
I continue to work on my essay from my spiritual writing course I took this past summer. Skillful writing is painfully hard to produce at times, especially when the story is centered on true events. While I personally believe there is only one way leading to God as I understand Him, there are numerous ways spiritual practices express themselves. In doing a search on spiritual writing, I ran across a list of 50 Best Spiritual Books of All Time posted on the site Lovejoy +Wonder and written by Deanna Cobden. Many of the books on this list offer spiritual guidance and advice on how to connect to the world we live in and to the lives we lead more spiritually. There are other works mixed in the list, like the book “Almost Everything,” by Anne Lamott.
Spiritual writing is a broad genre–much broader than I realized before taking my course via Creative Nonfiction Magazine. What’s making it particularly hard for me is digging up relics of the past and grappling with them in the present. I’d like to believe I am a different person today than the young man I was then. Some of the memories are joyful. Others peel back scabs and reveal scars long left unmolested. But then that’s part of the continuous process of recovery. Digging deep to make forward progress. So, there’s the mixed bag of emotions I sense as I write, molding and shaping text like a sculptor manipulates clay or a painter brushes paint on canvas. I don’t yet know what the finished product will look like, but I continue to do the work necessary to complete it.
As winter temperatures roll in, I am reminded how blessed I am to have a roof over my head and a warm bed to sleep in. I pray for my homeless brothers and sisters who are out on the streets on cold nights like we’ve had this week. Those knowledgeable will tell you that top causes of homelessness are the lack of affordable housing, unemployment, and mental illness. Did you know that of the 3.5 million people homeless on any given night in America that one-third of those are children?
Homelessness is often the result of tragic life occurrences such as the death of a loved one, loss of a job, domestic violence, divorce, and unresolved family disagreements. Many of the people who are homeless are women and children. It’s not all drug addicts and guys unwilling to work. In fact, many homeless people work and hold down jobs. Many simply can’t find an affordable place to live. When you’re homeless and living on the streets, adverse weather conditions, like freezing temperatures, exasperate an already tough situation.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.Matthew 25:35-36
- What word best describes 2020 from your perspective?
- Should differences of opinion impede the sharing of the Gospel?
- Who are your favorite spirtiual writers?
- How do you help the homeless in your community?
Father God, I am thankful for the life you have given me. I was reminded earlier this week of a Zig Ziglar quote that in essence reminds us that regardless of the circumstances of our lives, we should remain grateful that we are still living. Father, I pray that I would remain grateful for the life You have granted me. I pray for the advancement of the Gospel and that people everywhere would hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. I thank You, Lord, for the gift of writing and creativity. Help me steward this blessing well. May my writing serve You and help those who need it the most. I pray for Your love and watchcare over the homeless. Keep them safe, healthy, and out of harm’s way. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Praying for God’s continued blessings and favor upon your life. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know you were here. I love hearing from my readers.
The Devotional Guy™
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I personally believe that in order to experience life the way God intended, you and I must receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus Christ, God has made this gift available to all who ask.
“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Will you personally receive the gift of eternal life so that you can experience the total forgiveness from your sins that come through believing in the atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.”