2020 is history, 2021 already looks good

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, January 5, 2021

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You’ve heard it. “I’m so glad that 2020 is over and done.” How many times have we heard that? Maybe you’ve said it yourself.

But I’ve been thinking about it – and, yes, I understand that 2020 had its share of challenges. But if you and I can look back at that last somewhat-trying year and see that, first, you and those closest to you are safe and well, and, two, you have not gone under financially, then we did not have it so bad after all.

Those who were not blessed to come out of the end of the 2020 tunnel with those two things intact are the ones we feel the most for. The rest of us have to admit we’ve been pretty blessed.

I guess it’s a little like the great Bible hero named Caleb, a man who knows exactly how to look at things. He would tell us that the giant challenge you’re facing really isn’t the ‘main thing.’ The main thing is what it is you have deep down inside you – and who it is you have standing right there beside you. Those things are the difference-makers.

While some people look at a giant standing before them, and say, “Aw, man, we can’t do anything with that. It’s a giant,” the Calebs of the world look at that big thing standing in front of them and say, “We can do this. Just hang on. The Lord will help us find a way.”

We call such people the ‘can’ men.

You know, Caleb faces a challenge once that probably makes 2020’s challenges seem minute. He not only has to face giants; he has to face them with a flailing and faithless bunch of people whining all around him. Challenges are tough enough without having to convert your own before going into the battle.

But ol’ Caleb is up for that task, too. He stands up for what he knows is right, and he stands out as a ray of light amidst a dark generation. He is one of the world’s great ‘can’ men, for sure. Just because he is surrounded by a bunch of people who think otherwise does not mean that he has to blend in with them.

When the twelve spies in Moses’ day go over to spy out the land of Canaan and come back with a glowing report, you would think that such an occasion would end in an immediate God-driven assault on their enemies, resulting in a resounding victory and a return home to the Promised Land.

But we know things don’t always go the way we think they should.

These Israelites look at the giants over in Canaan, then look at how puny they are in comparison, and say, “Why, we’re nothing but grasshoppers,” and the whole generation tucks tail and runs. Oh, my, Caleb must have stood there just shaking his head in disbelief.

This scared-to-death attitude infuriates Caleb. He pulls in all the unbelievers and stands up and delivers one of the greatest halftime speeches you’ve ever heard: “Listen, fellas,” he’ll say,” we can do this. We can win this battle! Don’t you know that God is on our side?”

But halftime speeches only work if the players are willing to borrow the courage of the orator standing before them and go out to the field and lay everything they have on the line. These Israelites are as strong of ‘cannot’ men as Caleb is a strong ‘can’ man. Why, these people do not even leave the locker room to take the field for the second half.

As a result, Caleb must endure four grueling decades longing for the Promised Land. But he never gives up, through it all. Yes, Caleb will be 85 by the time he reaches his goal. But goals that are worth going after don’t have a clock attached to them.

Caleb, I guess, has to endure forty long, hard 2020’s. But he digs his heels into the dirt and refuses to let up, give up, or loosen up. And, sure enough, when the day comes when he marches across the Jordan River into Canaan, he is high-stepping better than all of them, even at eighty-five.

And, you know, once he crosses over, the previous 40 years are history.

Truth is, 2020 is history, too.

So, who will step up like Caleb, grit our teeth a little, say “We can” do this, then set out with a smile to see what good things 2021 holds?