20/20 Vision

I saw a meme a few weeks back that essentially said “I wonder how many sermons will be preached on Sunday the 29th about having 20/20 vision.” And personally, as long as it’s done right—Scripturally—i don’t think there’s anything wrong with that topic being used.

The following post is my attempt at a 20/20 vision discussion. I don’t feel bad about it at all.

So 2019 is over. Just like 2018 ended. Just like 2017 ended. Just like 2016 ended.

2019 is over.

When it comes to the Bible, eyes play a huge role. Words related to eyes appear 3,228 times in the Bible.

God uses His eyes to judge the status of His creation (“God saw that [it] was good” [Genesis 1:4]).
When the serpent comes to Eve, it says, “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Eve then looks at it and Moses tells us, “Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate ⌊it⌋; she also gave ⌊some⌋ to her husband, ⌊who was⌋ with her, and he ate ⌊it⌋” (3:6). Because of this choice, the world was plunged into sin. Sin was the reason why Jesus chose to step into our mess–viewing it with His own eyes–to redeem us from our sin.
The Bible’s storyline concludes with another word about eyes. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4). This is what we look forward to as Christians. Sin causes grief. When God wipes our tears away on the last day it is a beautiful sign that sin will have been done away with for eternity.

But now the moment of truth:
When i look back at my goals for 2019, how did i do?

If i’m honest, 2019 was not a very productive year. Spiritually it was better than 2018 by far, but it was not what it could have been.

I read less Scripture this year (though in honesty i read less than i hoped to read), but i also did not pray enough. I started out strong journaling, but by the end of the year my journaling was nonexistent. My blogging was only 61 of my proposed 104. I finished the rough draft of my NaNoWriMo novel from 2018, and i wrote half of a new novel in November for NANOWRIMO, and i also published a commentary on Galatians. I did not go back to school, but that whole story deserves a blogpost in and of itself (i almost did last January and i am currently in process to again, but i might end up schooling now in a different direction; prayers are appreciated). I did not move out of my parent’s house, but i am currently in a better place to be able to do that this next year. My love has been challenged greatly this year (the girlfriend referred to in last year’s post is no longer in the picture), but i can firmly say that i have grown in love. My substitute teaching job became better on its own, so i am still employed in the same place. I am currently helping out in various ministry functions at a new church plant. And it is rare that i work out.

So the final tally is in. Out of ten goals i had for 2019, i stacked up like this:

  • Achieved = 2 (novel rough draft and ministry stuff)
  • Failed = 5
  • Kind of achieved and kind of failed = 3

It’s a good thing i don’t base my salvation on my New Year’s goals. If so, i’d be going to Hell. Thank You, Jesus, for grace and salvation. Which leads me to look forward to 2020. Here are my goals (in no particular order):

Most importantly, I need to focus on Jesus.

 But my eyes ⌊look⌋ to You, Lord GOD. I seek refuge in You; do not let me die.

Psalm 141:8 (HCSB)

This is my most important goal for 2020. If i can keep my eyes on Jesus, sin will be less appealing and life will run much smoother. The less appealing sin is, the less i commit it. The less i commit it, the less guilty i feel. The less guilty i feel, the less depressed i get. The less depressed i get, the more productive and joyful i am. The more joyful i am, the more my life reflects the character of Jesus to a watching world.

Jesus, in everything i do this year, please help me to keep my eyes on You.

Secondly, I need to get outside of my own mind.

Join in imitating me, brothers, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us.

Philippians 3:17 (HCSB)

This is another important goal for 2020. Ever since 2012 i have kept an Excel spreadsheet of the biblical-related books i’ve read each year. Over the past four years i have been less and less intentional about actually reading this type of literature. In 2013 and 2014 i averaged about 33 books each year. In 2015-2019 i averaged closer to 24 books each year, with 2019 coming in at 26.

Also since 2013 i have tried to make church a priority. College from fall of 2013 to Christmas of 2015 made it difficult, as well as a few problematic churches in that time. By the time 2019 rolled around i was ready to never step foot in another church again. (But that’s a story for another time.) Long story short, i am involved in a specific local church again, and it is wonderful.

So when it comes to observing those who live according to the apostolic example, my goal for 2020 is to both read more and to grow more connected to my church. I can’t do this life alone. I need help and guidance from those who have come before, and i need to be a light to others who are coming after.

Jesus, please help me to grow in You this year. I want to grow by leaps and bounds!

Thirdly, i need to steward well the new relationship that God has placed in my life.

My dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the crevices of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.

Song of Songs 2:14 (HCSB)

While there is so much more to them, relationships have a visual aspect to them as well. If you don’t like seeing someone, then odds are you won’t date them. As it stands currently, God has placed a wonderful, beautiful young woman in my life. She loves God, she loves me, she actually appreciates me being around, and she invites me to family get togethers. How much more can you ask for?

But in reality, while i could look at her all day every day and accomplish nothing, i need to steward the time well. It isn’t enough to just appreciate being around each other as great as that is.

You see, the man in Song of Songs speaks 2:14, but the woman turns around and speaks the next verse. She asks her man to catch the foxes that ruin the vineyard. I need to put to death—not only in my own life, but take the lead in the relationship—anything that might threaten the stability of the relationship, always with her best interests ahead of mine. It also encourages me to be intentional in getting to know her, so that we can determine if there is any reason why we should not move forward in our relationship. If there are red flags, then we should address them and not sweep them under the rug. If there are no red flags, then there are no reasons why we should just settle for a dating relationship as boyfriend/girlfriend indefinitely.

But i digress.

Jesus, help me to honor and love this girl and to lead her well. It’s a huge calling. I don’t want to take the calling or her for granted.

Finally, i need to be productive this year.

I saw, and took it to heart; I looked, and received instruction: a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, and your poverty will come like a robber, your need, like a bandit.

Proverbs 24:32-34 (HCSB)

Too much time spent in bed or watching tv or late nights playing video games leads to lack of motivation—pretty much for everything else on this list. I need a better sleep schedule in 2020. Even if this requires that i start implementing a work out routine, i need to be in bed earlier—regularly—and up earlier always.

The better i am at this goal the more blogging and novelling i will accomplish. There is much i want to accomplish this year:

  • Read through the whole Bible once
  • Live in Proverbs, Galatians, Titus, and 1 John
  • Journal daily: continuing through the pastoral epistles
  • Blog at least 75 times this year
  • grow in love for others: especially my girlfriend
  • Finish the rough draft of my NANOWRIMO novel
  • Finish another draft of my 2018 NANOWRIMO novel
  • Part one of the sequel to Stranded finished (if not more)
  • Release a new album (or two?)
  • Go back to school for a master’s level degree (theology or English education)
  • move out of my parent’s house
  • Still be involved in ministry (preferably at the same locale)

Jesus, i know that’s a lot of stuff to want to do, but i know if i become more disciplined I can do it. Help me!

Well, there you have it. I pray that 2020 might be a year of incredible growth—spiritually, relationally, personally, and professionally.

Now, not only is it the beginning of a new year, but it is also the beginning of a new decade. It is humbling to think that a decade ago i was lost and headed down the path to hell. Praise God for grace. My ten year birthday as a Christian is July 1, 2020. It brings me joy to be able to say that.

My hope for the new decade is that my vision would improve with each new year. For instance, 20/25 vision means that you see at 20 feet what most people can see at 25 feet. I want my vision to not regress through this new decade. It’s been rough over the past ten years but i think i’m finally in a place where real, lasting growth can happen.

Jesus, please help me to move leaps and bounds ahead in my walk by 2030 compared to where i am currently. I need You.

What do you hope to get out of your 2020 and the 2020s as a decade?

In this with you.

Soli Deo Gloria
Solus Christus

Thanks for reading.