“What was Your story this year, Lord?”
If there’s one thing I learned from crafting personal stories, it’s that there are so many layers. There’s the layer of story that unfolds before the writer’s eyes; and then the layer we don’t see—the one spun inwardly and silently, often with tears behind closed doors; there’s of course, the layer told from the perspective of a friend; and the layer told from the perspective of a loving parent; there’s the layer told from an enemy’s point of view; and the layer we tell ourselves (which tends to be as equally biased as the enemy’s); and then of course, there is the layer told by God Himself.
In One Voice Magazine, we deal with stories and their layers. Not all layers get screen time on our website since that would mean publishing stories meant for the longer pages of a book. Just the same, One Voice Magazine creates and publishes stories of hope, unity, and transformation, knowing that the very best stories we get to tell are those expressing what God has been doing in our lives and in the world around us.
And so for this Christmas and the New Year, we can look back and craft the story of 2020. It’s not just the story that “Coronavirus hit 2020,” or “Typhoon Ulysses devastated many in 2020.” No, that’s the story we see with our eyes—a layer that is obvious— but not the complete story where God’s heart is given the narrative.
The 2020 Perspective
When we look closely at 2020’s story, we can see God’s hand enabling us to feel keenly about certain things.
For one, 2020 was when God started to restore the meaning of Church; one where He began showing us glimpses of His heart regarding family. We saw that His Church really meant His family, and that we could start by loving our own families.
2020 was when He shook the foundations of self-trust; where He made us see that provision is from Him, breath is from Him, protection is from Him.
2020 was when He whittled away at many superfluous activities and confronted us with silences so He could confront the noise, anger, and impatience in our own hearts and minds.
2020 was when He resurrected sleeping manuscripts and tired artistic hands. 2020 was when He amplified a voice of hope in One Voice, too, by giving us a weekly broadcast.
2020 was when He exposed corruption in the police force— a wake-up call for the Philippines to push for accountability and discipline within the ranks of those mandated to protect people.
And in the year’s start (of a volcano eruption) and end (with a forceful typhoon), 2020 was when God reminded the Church of Glory; that Glory is best seen in love and unity and in the care we show each other. When we love each other, the world sees who Jesus is. They are drawn to Him—the Light of the world in this darkness.
This Chapter and the Next
John 12:32 says, “And I [Jesus], if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself. ”The central focus of drawing people to Jesus is always Jesus– the lifting up of His name; of His character; of His work on the cross. And whenever something like death or destruction happens, it is the best time for us to remember the cross—the very instrument of death on the physical body of Christ. Jesus didn’t stop death when it came to Him. He embraced it.
And then He moved on to the next chapter called LIFE.
What we have to understand about Jesus’ character is that He never gives the final pen to death. He knows that the next page of the story will always mean something new– life and resurrection. There will always be victory at the end when He’s involved in a story. That’s just how He is. He is LIFE. It’s one of His names.
It is One Voice’s goal to lift Jesus up in our stories. The website and broadcasts are simply tools to release these stories, and we don’t want to lose sight of our central focus and the central narrative of all that is going in us and around us. The key question we need to answer will always be: What is God’s story in your story?
And so for this editorial, I’d like to angle 2020 with a perspective of hope. This December, after all, puts a marker for 2020 by reminding us, too, of the Hebrew calendar’s Festival of Lights, symbolized by a candelabra flickering in the darkness.
Father, we thank you for Your story in 2020. It’s a year like no other—yes, a year where Your grace was unparalleled amid worldwide destruction. And we thank You for Your narrative spun into the intricate details of this year. You are the kind of God who weaves hope in the darkness; who says like how You did during the chaos of Genesis: “Let there be Light.” You say it even now in our darkness.
As December finishes with the Festival of Lights in the Hebrew calendar—we know that it is a fitting declaration of hope in the darkness. Even the skies this December remind us of Bethlehem’s bright Star; the star that led the wise to You.
We want to be wise, Lord. We want our stories to start and end with You because that’s how they really are: they start and end with You. Just like breath.
Just like the Day.
And just like the Night.
Thank you, Lord. We pray this in Jesus’ name,
As we transition to a new year, I encourage you to craft your own prayer of hope. It really helps place your own heart in perspective! That said, on behalf of the One Voice Magazine team I’d like to greet you, dear readers, with a generous and loud:
MERRY CHRISTMAS! AND HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Journeying with you in this rollercoaster ride of life,
Janina Marie Rivera
Janina Marie Rivera is the author of the book, A Night Bird Sings of Blindness and Fear and has co-authored the devotional, Dawns, published by OMF Literature. She is a contributing poet in the books Joyful Light and Whitmanthology: on Loss and Grief by Various Authors. She is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine.