Downhill Stretch or Downhill Spiral???

Downhill Stretch or Downhill Spiral???


At the beginning of the year, the elders and ministry staff set forth this year’s theme for our congregation, “2020 Vision: Focusing on what Really Matters.” The intended goal was for us to honestly examine ourselves, to cut out all the extraneous parts of our lives, and by doing so… end the year with perfect spiritual vision. The theme verse to encompass our goals was 2 Corinthians 4:18, “While we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” To keep us all on track, we planned on having sermon series sprinkled throughout the year that would center on spiritual eyesight, vision, and focus. These were our initial hopes and dreams for the year 2020.

Being seven months removed from the inception of these aspirations, it is hard not to LAUGH. None of us could have possibly imagined or foreseen the unprecedented year that was before us. A worldwide pandemic forced relatively every single facet of our daily lives to shut down. Our lives had no more sports, no more Olympics, no more restaurants, no more theatres, no more social interactions with friends and family. Instead, these things were replaced by isolation, masks, social distancing, and quarantine. As if this was not enough, the outcry of social injustices raged throughout the country. To top it all off, murder hornets, impeachment trials, and social media warriors added to the chaos. What is even crazier to think about is that we have just barely passed the halfway point of 2020.

Are we on the downhill stretch, or are we headed for an even greater downhill spiral?  This is the question on everyone’s mind as we face the remainder of this year. Looking back to our theme and especially our theme verse… it makes me wonder, was God trying to take away all the temporary things so that we could finally focus on the eternal? Was God trying to bring us closer to Him through the quarantine? Instead of watching sports and going to movie theatres, did He want us to open up His Word for a change? Rather than coming to worship and going through the motions, did He want us to never again take for granted fellowship and worship with our brothers and sisters?

No one can sufficiently answer these questions because none of us are God. At the end of the day, I do not believe God created the Coronavirus that has claimed hundreds of thousands of people’s lives. This disease results from the fallen world that WE brought about dating back to Adam and Eve. However, I firmly believe that God can take even the worst of situations and have His will accomplished through it. Regardless of what may come in the remainder of this year, whether we are on the downhill stretch or heading towards a downhill spiral is entirely up to us.

There has been a battle going on between God and Satan in the year 2020. Satan has been trying to keep our minds focused on the temporary. God has been trying to keep our minds focused on the eternal. The question is, who has been winning and whose side have you been on? Have we allowed fear, anxieties, stress, and temporary things to dominate us? Or have we used these trying times to work out to the glory and praise of Almighty God? These are the questions each of us must ask as we look at ourselves. This world needs Christians to be salt and light more now than ever before. The sad thing is, our temporary circumstances this year have conformed many Christians into the likeness of the very world we are trying to escape. Is it more important to be right or to be loving? Is it more important to be heard or to listen?

“Focusing on what really matters” is perhaps the best mantra we could possibly have going forward into the remainder of this year. Unfortunately, the temporary has blinded us more than ever before. It seems like we have forgotten the old hymn, “This world is not my home; I’m just passing through.” Paul said it best when he said, “For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” Philippians 3:20. Even if the remainder of 2020 has nothing but more trials and tribulations, we can always rest assured knowing, “If our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens,” 2 Corinthians 5:1. As we look towards the rest of 2020, we can either focus on the temporary or on the eternal. Only one of them really matters. Only one of them leads to the spiritual vision we all aspire to reach. The choice we make determines whether it will be a downhill stretch or a downhill spiral.

-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism