The constant grace of God
Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson
January 3, 2020
Welcome to the year 2020. The fact that this year marks the start of a new decade caught me somewhat unaware. It was only as I listened to media personalities query viewers and listeners about their favorite songs or movies that it even occurred to me that the year 2020 marked the start of the third decade of the twenty-first century. Do you have a favorite song or movie from the last ten years? I do not. Perhaps this is a sign of age, but for me, the years blend such that few popular culture trends stand out as significant. Those types of touchstones seem more reserved for coming of age events – the first song to which young lovers danced or the most popular movie in the year a child was born.
And even as I look ahead to this new decade, I wonder whether it will be filled with the hope and promise anticipated. 2020 was to be the year of fulfilled strategic plans for many organizations. Playing on the idea of perfect 20/20 vision, the year represented a goal for which an organization was to strive – the realization of missional clarity and focus. Did we make it? Have we reached those goals or are they just as elusive as they were when we set them in 2000?
I do not know whether previous years marked some great milestone or whether the present new year represents the pinnacle of predetermined plans. But, like David, I do know that I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor their seed begging bread (Psalm 37:25). Commentators suggest that David was writing this at the end of life as one who had the opportunity to observe the varying vicissitudes. As young people, we look at life with the wonder that coming of age brings. That is why we can remember our favorite pop singer during our teen years or that first revelatory book read in our twenties. These markers stand as a testament to the emancipating power of youth, where newfound awareness and independence is met with boldness. David remembered those times with great bravado.
He also remembered the productive years of adulthood. From the ages of 25 to 54, we are said to be in our prime. These are the top earning and producing years. These are the years during which many might marry and raise families. We are striving and climbing. Bravado is complemented with competence. We don’t just talk about doing. We know how to do what we are setting out to do and demonstrate great confidence in our own abilities. David remembered those times as well as they were marked with the maturity of his own manhood and prowess.
But then he says, “Now I am old.” It is the sobering statement of one who knows that there are more years behind him than before him and I understand that as well. When I was in elementary school, a teacher gave my class an assignment to consider how old we would be in the year 2000 and what we might be doing vocationally. I remember the challenge of forecasting my future because I could not imagine being so old! Truth be told, fifty years later, I still have some of those same thoughts – how could I be so old?
Yet when I look over life, the things that stand out and the things that blur as indistinguishable, the constant continues to be the grace of God. We may not recognize that grace in the moment, but in that exercise of reflection, we cannot help but see how God has continued to show up. If you woke up this morning, that is evidence of God’s grace. If you had shelter and food to eat, God’s grace is on display. The ability to use yours gift and talents to create and provide are examples of grace. And it is that grace that motivates us to extend ourselves to others. Because there are those who do not have, we give of ourselves so that needs are met. That is why the righteous are not forsaken nor their seed begging bread. God’s grace moves us to be ever giving and lending. Thus, God’s grace abounds as it is shared from one to another.
Whether 2020 marks some great milestone in your life or whether it is just another year, hold on to the constant which is God and the grace that God offers.
So, whether 2020 marks some great milestone in your life or whether it is just another year, hold on to the constant which is God and the grace that God offers. Our youth may be slipping away, but God’s grace remains. We may be experiencing some great tragedy or loss, but God’s grace will sustain. We may be riding a wave of hopeful promise. Just remember God’s grace was the enabler. The point is simple: grace is the touchstone on which we can hold, the constant that is with us year after year. May the grace of God, the love of Jesus Christ, and the sweet communion of the Holy Spirit rest, rule, and abide with you in 2020 and always. Amen.
The Rev. Dr. Debora Jackson is the Director of Operations for All Girls Allowed, a faith-based, non-profit that restores life, value, and dignity by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, building schools, churches, and women’s centers, and mobilizing churches and partners for global impact. She was previously the Director of Lifelong Learning at Yale Divinity School. Her newly released book “Meant for Good: Fundamentals of Womanist Leadership,” is available through Judson Press.