Thoughts on 2020

2020 is a year of breakthrough and breakdown.

2020 is a critical, important year. Many see it as the beginning of a new decade, even though it is the last year of the old one. That makes it a year of transition in our culture.

See, today I place you above peoples and kingdoms, that you should pull out and tear down, destroy and spoil and build and plant.

Jeremiah 1:10

When I look at this verse, my impression for 2020 is no longer so threatening and dualistic. Either / or becomes both / and. Breakthrough and breakdown go hand in hand. At first, this seems to be a paradox, a contradiction.

Breakthrough is not the result of collapse. This is not about the chronological order. It is not about rebirth from chaos. Breakthrough does not lead to breakdown either. This is where salvation philosophies and end-time constructs come to mind: when Jesus returns, everything bad and wrong will collapse. It is also not about achievement and living rightly: When I finally break through, everything that does not mean God will collapse.

All of these interpretations are dualistic, dividing the world into good and bad, right and wrong. It is too easy that if, we think in such categories, we miss the work of God.

Who hasn’t been troubled by the verse in Jeremiah: 4 times collapse, even active destruction, just to build 2 times. The Old Testament is about actually destroying, about eliminating entire peoples. Did people get it right back then? Could they have understood differently? Have we grown since then?

Too often we see it like this:

We pray against, we exclude, we demonstrate against, we condemn, and then we reach out and want to integrate people into our likeness. And we wonder why hardly anyone is enthusiastic about it.

Breakthrough and breakdown do not speak of the other person. They speak of me. Breakthrough and breakdown are the necessary two components of growth that play hand in hand, and sometimes you are not so sure what is what.

It is the play, the work of God in our lives.

Breakthrough and breakdown cannot be seen externally. It is not about systems, politics, supranational alliances and constructs like the EU, philosophies and fads.

It is about thinking, feeling, wanting, about our inner self. It is about overcoming of thinking in categories like right and wrong, of us versus them. About allowing grace and love to prevail in breakthrough and breakdown.

I see a period of two years: in the first year lies the inner work, in the second year the outer work from a new perspective of both / and, grace and love. The beginning and its outworking are intertwined.

The two years will demand everything from us. Growing is an arduous process. We need good food. We need a lot of communication.

This is not about the growth of a baby, it’s about the teenage years. Everything changes, and sometimes it doesn’t look very beneficial: too lanky, with pimples. Sometimes it hurts: growth pangs. Sometimes you no longer know who you are: fish or bird.

Our thinking, our brain is not yet fully developed. Our feeling is an absolute mess. Our wanter runs errant.

In the natural world, there are models during this time that can help us, even if it is often the people from whom we least want to accept help.

Spiritually, we are at a time when there are (almost) no such role models. The role models we have had so far have not yet followed this path. They often find it harder to walk it because they have internalized the previous path so well.

It is up to us to go this way. Let us honor the role models of recent years, the last phase, by continuing. Let us help them come along. If it’s their destiny.

Many will follow and have to go through what we have gone through, and they need good role models on their way. Maybe it’s the people who helped us. The above applies here: no us versus them, no judgment. Grace and love.