How to Save 2020
Among the many changes 2020 has brought, we’re now finishing up November with most homes already decorated for Christmas, inside and out.
When I drive down the street, my pulse quickens and my breath catches to see icicle lights dripping from eaves and Christmas trees winking through windowpanes. Social media stories abound of holiday movie marathons commencing and Christmas traditions being pulled out of storage and dusted off. I’m right along with the rest, already leaning into the sights and sounds of the “most wonderful time of the year”. The hint of snowfall is definitely helping.
If I had to come up with a reason for it, I believe that people need to celebrate. At the end of a year that has jarred and blindsided the best of us, we’re all looking for something that will spark joy, bring the family together, and remind us that life is still beautiful.
And yet, if you’ve been paying attention to current events on any front, you’ll know that even the holidays are under attack, starting with Thanksgiving. In an attempt to hold onto the illusory control they’ve stolen under the guise of "the greater good", the powers that be are now attempting to reach into our homes and govern our gatherings, restricting numbers and movement…all because of Covid, of course. They’re stretching the sorcerer’s wand of fear over a line people never dreamed they’d cross in order to keep feeding us the narrative that we don’t know what’s best for ourselves and we need a sinister big brother to manage life for us.
But one thing I’ve learned this year is that Covid is merely a smokescreen. It always has been.
I believe there’s a deeper reason why Thanksgiving is under attack.
As a practice, not just as a holiday, Thanksgiving carries the power of testimony.
Testimony keeps the hope of change alive. And that is one thing the enemy of our souls has fought tooth and nail to distort using his signature blend of lies, anger, wounded pride, and fear. From the Garden of Eden right into 2020.
Lest you assume testimony is only about repeating how God saved you at a conference or in a Bible study, testimony has existed since the Old Testament and was always of utmost importance to God—right alongside His commandments and the life-giving mindset He wanted to impart to His people.
Testimony carries implications of repeated action, a prophetic promise of who God is and what He will do. The hope that is unleashed through testimony is what causes people to stand up straight and tall in the midst of stormy winds that threaten to knock us down. Testimonies aren’t just good stories that encourage us.
Testimonies tell us who we are.
Remembrance is a key element to embracing the power of testimony and that comes through repetition and adoption by future generations. You remember things better when they become a part of you. God always wanted to connect with His people and teach them who He was through what He did for them. That’s why the children of Israel were schooled in keeping the testimonies of God (Deuteronomy 11:18). When they didn’t, they fell away as a nation and brought untold devastation on themselves and their children.
Revelation 19:10 speaks of the greatest testimony--the one that fuels ours: the testimony of Jesus, which is the spirit of prophecy itself.
The enemy hates the testimonies of God because they have the power to wake people up, shake them free of the lies that have bound them, and open their eyes to new levels of freedom they didn’t know they could have. God doesn’t work in a vacuum. Each testimony proclaims something about His nature and sets a precedent for the future. And when that comes into view, we can't help but rejoice and give thanks.
Philippians, Paul's famous "rejoicing" letter encourages us to live our lives before the Lord with thanksgiving. Not complaining. Why? Because we can be confident in His unchanging nature--that He will provide all our needs, guard our minds with peace, and never put us to shame.
The journey of thanksgiving has shaped my life, impermeably and forever. It began in my childhood with regular celebration of the Bible accounts, woven into my life in story and song and example, as well as a blessing jar in which we recorded the things God did for us as a family. But we didn’t just scribble things down and drop them in. Every story, whether from Scripture or from our own lives, was continually and regularly recounted, journaled, shared, and celebrated.
Now that I’ve grown up, I can say without a hint of irony that thanksgiving saved my life. Now, it’s become the lenses I wear. It’s the whisper that won’t let me drown completely in doubt or fear. When inadequacy comes knocking, a dozen stories come to mind of how God spun His strength into my weakness and helped me climb the mountain before me. I have hundreds of journal pages that I could look at for a hundred different testimonies of His goodness for my today and His promises for my future. When calamity threatens my peace, I have an anchor to cling to, a stubborn jubilance that won't be defeated, even when I can't feel it.
And that doesn’t just happen.
With the world, the flesh, and the enemy all fighting overtime to cloud our mindsets and keep us drifting, verbally connected to something that isn’t real to us, we must be even more intentional to anchor our reality in the Truth.
Memory is like any other muscle. It can grow or it can atrophy. I remember the Truth because I’ve lived inside it for years. I’ve fed on the testimonies of God's faithfulness to me and to others. I've taken journeys with Bible characters and heroes of Church history, studying their lives until their faith rubbed off on me. I’ve allowed myself to be amazed by the harsh realities God has spoken into and I’ve dared to expect His intervention in the harshest of mine.
No, I've never marched down to an ocean and expect it to part just for the fun of it. No, I’ve never thrown a stone at a physical giant and watched him fall. I’ve had to learn that God was writing a different story for me. I am not Moses, David, Joshua, Esther. I am not Wilberforce or Bradford or Corrie Ten Boom. And that’s okay. But the records of these people’s lives are not just stories. They are not even just true stories.
They are my history. Because I serve the same God.
Their stories tell me how He thinks and acts and invites me to be just as crazy in faith as they were—because He is everything. And He put me in my world for a reason just like He put them in theirs.
The story is His. The enemy doesn’t get to steal and pervert it—unless we let him.
When you live in a world that is spewing lies constantly, winding them into the air we breathe, it is not enough to merely repeat Bible stories at bedtime or in Sunday school.
It isn’t enough to repeat “God is good” once a year over turkey and pumpkin pies. Or once a week from behind velvet pews.
Thanksgiving must be lived out.
Praise and thanksgiving are gifts God gives us to help illuminate the times when our reality is dark. It's how we get to shine as lights in this world, proclaiming a very real Hope that transforms everything.
The people throughout history who saw the biggest miracles were people who kept the testimonies of the Lord by adopting the history of His works as their history.
Now, more than ever, the world is trying to make us forget who we are. As Americans. As Christians.
The world insists that there’s so much evil out there, we should stop trying to fight for the good. The world competes to see who is the loudest complainer, the biggest victim—and that’s where the attention goes. The world overplays the evil part of the story, giving it the power to poison the future.
I think it’s pretty clear. The enemy is after Thanksgiving. Because it changes lives.
But guess what? We don’t have to play the game.
Just think for a moment of a story from the first Thanksgiving back in 1621.
A weary band of God-fearing men, women, and children had come to the New World seeking religious freedom only to be blasted with a horrible winter that stole their strength and turned almost all of them into widows and orphans in a few months. At half their capacity, they wondered how they would survive another year.
Who should walk into this situation but a Native American who had received nothing but trouble from the Englishmen? Squanto had been sold into slavery, separated from his family, and deprived of his entire tribe because of a sickness brought by the “white men.” And yet, he did not live out the rest of his days as a victim. History holds him as a powerful diplomat who gave the rest of his life to improving relations between the different people groups in the New World. The Pilgrims viewed him as a gift from God sent to save them from certain death. Rather than be consumed by bitterness, Squanto lived on hope and allowed himself to be a solution.
With God alone, this is possible. He's waiting to teach all of us how to see His light in the darkest parts of our stories.
Let’s take back 2020 with celebration, declaring that it is Good because God is Good. Let’s recount the things He has done in history and for us. But let’s not simply repeat them as stories. Let’s do as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did in Genesis and build a fresh altar of remembrance at each one, asking God what each miracle says about His nature and what He wants us to believe is possible because of that.
Adopt the acts of God as your history. Become a student of the testimonies of God and adopt every victory as a prophecy of your own. Yes, your life will be unique, but God does not change. Dive into Scripture and ask the Spirit to breathe on it so that your eyes are more fully opened to a real God working in the lives of real humans. Then ask Him to show you what He’s doing all around you and what He’s teaching you in the midst of it all.
It is the Truth you know in the depth of your soul that will set you free. It's how you stay stable in a world that seems to be turning to quicksand. By anchoring yourself in who He is and what He's done. And that is more than enough to celebrate!