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Pastor Rudy Sheptock

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I can honestly admit that 2020 was the most challenging year I have ever navigated, and there is no doubt I would not still be standing in one piece without the Lord.  

The inside peace that faith in God provides was always just enough to handle the outside turmoil these chaotic days planned for everyone. Pandemics, politics, and the problems that arose because of them did their best to pummel us, but we are still standing. 

There may be some scars on our bodies and souls because of battle fatigue, but we didn’t give up. I may get right to the edge of the mountain of misery, but the majesty of who God is and the fact that He is with us keeps me from falling into the abyss of despair. 

People keep asking me, what are we going to do if 2021 is no better? I reply, “I am going to take one day at a time because that is all the mercy and grace that heaven provides us with.”  

If the Lord chooses to give us a pulse, He will provide our purpose. I can’t get preoccupied about June in January. If 2020 proved anything, it is the necessity to adjust the load on the road as we travel our world's winding ways. It is not about rules and regulations as much as it revolves around our relationships. 

This year saw the entry of two of the most beautiful twin granddaughters I have ever seen. If taking 2020 away also removed them from my experience, I would still vote to go through the calendar circus over again.  

My daughter, Abbie, got married and is now expecting twins. They don’t run in our families, but the yesterdays have nothing to do with what our Lord longs to accomplish in our tomorrows, so here we are, with our hiking boots on ready to press full steam ahead. 

This has been a difficult year because everyone had their opinions on how everything should be done. Masks on, masks off. Church doors open, church doors closed. Worship outside, worship inside. Stay home, stay engaged. Vote this way, vote that. Stand up for this, sit down for that.  

There was a lot of heartache and tears shed for our society. My dear wife lost her mom. My mom almost succumbed to Covid. It’s a hoax, it is real.  

Division running rampant, even in the Body of Christ - words that hurt being launched at one another without proper thinking; isolation, violation, communication, indignation, illumination, stipulation, and judged innocent or guilty before you make a move, and the Bible’s words to “love God and love one another” are still written in red. 

As I write this, my daughter and son-in-law are fighting the virus, and prayers going up for them and the baby twins my baby girl carries. My youngest son tries to figure out what college to attend without the benefit of visiting the campuses. My oldest daughter and her hubby were supposed to go to Florida this week to visit family, and my oldest son and his family were on their way to coming here and everything has changed because of quarantine.  

Believers are not exempt from trials and tribulations. It has nothing to do with how much you pray or act meaningfully. Living life on earth means injustice and things not being fair or right.  

I don’t look at my work to provide me with what it can’t give. I look up and humbly ask the Lord to lead and guide; to keep me from tripping over my understanding, and as I acknowledge Him, He promises to direct my path. That itinerary may take me through the valley of the shadow of death, but even there, He is there with me, and the same is true for you. 

In my gut, I believe we are in for more adventure than even 2020 gave us. My perfectionist tendencies scare me to death. I know that I must keep letting go, or I won’t grow. I am praying the same for all of you. 

I don’t ask God for an easier schedule. I plead for great practice sessions and awesome preparation so when we get out on the field, we are ready for whatever is thrown at us. I still hate losing, but defeat is not defined by my perspective.  

Let me close this column and open the New Year with these words from Scripture. I will be preaching from 2 Corinthians on the weekends at The Lighthouse Church. I might as well begin backing up my talk with my walk. 

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” 

Ready or not 2021, here we come. We are looking up and not giving up. We are not stuck in neutral or going in reverse but heading home towards Jesus. 

ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House. 

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