Life is busy. Between the nine-to-five, paying the bills, getting the kids to where they need to go, and serving your community and your church, there isn’t much time left, is there? The tyranny of the urgent tends to suck us in and overwhelm us. The daily needs of living can actually overwhelm the “living” part of life. Life in America has changed rapidly. From supply chain breakdowns, to shortages, to the polarization of culture and people—the stage is set for 2022 to anything but dull.
As followers of Christ, we have to remember that so many of the Bible’s most powerful statements were given during tumultuous times! Abram’s call from God to “go to the land I will show you” was on the heels of the scattering of the nations at Babel (Gen. 12:1). Isaiah’s statement “I saw the Lord seated on the throne” was “in the year King Uzziah died” (Isa. 6:1). The disciples received the marching orders of the church—“Go and make disciples of all nations” and “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” moments before their leader and friend was taken up to Heaven in a cloud (Matt. 28:19, Acts 1:8,9). The tumult is where the Spirit of God seems to meet His people in powerful ways. Who knows what 2022 will be, but for us as Christians, the time is now.
Now is the time to lift up our eyes
In John 4, Jesus has just had a discussion about living water with the Samaritan woman, and she has rushed back into her village, leaving her water jar, to tell everyone about Jesus. His disciples have just returned and are trying to plan the next meal. They are concerned with when they will eat. It’s in this context that Jesus makes this statement: “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’ Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35 ESV). Jesus’ words ring heavy. The harvest is here and the harvest is now, but your eyes are down and focused on your grocery list for the next meal instead of the coming Kingdom.
The busyness of life will crowd out our ability to see the needs around us. John 4 leaves a breathtaking picture for us — a Samaritan woman goes about her to-do list to get water for the day; she meets Jesus and runs off to make sure the entire village knows about Him. How often have we as Christians been more like the disciples than the Samaritan woman — so focused on our to-do list and daily chores instead of the people around us? We are facing a deadline at work or a project around the house, so we put blinders on the people around us. We use our house as a fortress to hide from the neighbors instead of a place to host them. We put our heads down to get done the things that the day requires of us and miss the ministry God has put around us.
Near a well in Samaria is an empty water jar that bids us to lift up our eyes and see the harvest fields. Did the woman eventually get water that day? We don’t know, but we do know that an entire village heard about Jesus. Could 2022 be the year we let our laundry pile up a little longer, our yards be overgrown one more day, and our grocery take a little bit longer because we lifted up our eyes in order for our neighborhood and our community to meet Jesus?
Now is the time for perseverance and perspective
Last week, my daughter’s best friend’s house burned down. It was gut-wrenching. After they got settled in a temporary location, we went by to drop off some things for their pantry. The dad walked me into his kitchen and showed me a small tupperware of the three things they were able to salvage from their home: a picture of him from his childhood, the wife’s childhood advent calendar, and a wedding ring. He was beaming with pride in how God had saved those three things — the three things they were really grieving that they lost! There was enough in that small box to prove God’s existence in my mind. I went home with a new perspective on my house, my stuff, and my selfishness.
Paul writes to a group of suffering Christians and says, “Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18 CSB).
Paul writes to a minority people amongst a majority pagan culture with those encouraging words. Peter echos Paul in 1 Peter 1:6-7, “You rejoice in this, even though now for a short time, if necessary, you suffer grief in various trials, so that the proven character of your faith – more valuable than gold which, through perishable, is refined by fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (CSB).
The call of scripture is to “get over ourselves.” Peter says that when we suffer, it should produce character in our faith. The result of that character is that Jesus is lifted high and seen as worthy of all praise, glory, and honor. I wonder if the reason our culture doesn’t see Jesus as worthy of praise, glory, and honor like Peter writes above is because we have not allowed our current trials to produce in us the character of faith. They have not seen us make much of Him, but instead make much of our trials.
What if 2022 was the year we began to celebrate that God really is enough and if times get harder, Jesus is faithful. If our culture gets darker, Jesus is brighter. If society becomes more broken, Jesus is still the healer. We all long to hear Jesus say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” We have to remember that good and faithful are character traits that are proven during tough times, not easy times.
Romans 8:19 reads, “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed” (NIV). I can’t imagine that being any different today than it was in Paul’s day. Creation, culture, and the church eagerly await for the people of God to be revealed. Busyness and hard times are the common enemy. Just like the rain falls on the just and unjust, tough days don’t discriminate either. But what if 2022 was the year the people of God are revealed — in our culture, our communities, and our families? Could 2022 be the year where we hold the busyness at bay and see the harvest field God has us in? Could 2022 be the year where we see our situation in view of eternity and what it is producing instead of wanting what is easy and temporal?
Clayton Bullion is the Evangelism Discipleship Mobilization Catalyst for the Center for Collegiate Ministry.