2021, Bring It On!

Written by Cara Shonamon
Musings of a Ministering Mother

A Renewed Mindset_articleMy husband Justin is a great guy for many reasons, and I find myself so blessed to be his spouse. One of the ways in which he is so wonderful is that at times he joins in activities I enjoy even if they are not his favorite. For example, I love movies. I love getting lost in a movie, I love the stories captured in movies, and I love popcorn. So, Justin recently joined me to watch the new Wonder Woman movie.

Don’t worry, no spoilers here, but, fair warning, I will talk about the opening scene.

The movie begins with Wonder Woman as a young girl, competing in an epic ninja-warrior-type contest with grown women who have been training for it for a long time. She is full of spunk, confidence, and she is good!

She takes an early lead, but has a bad habit of looking back over her shoulder to check the distance between her and the competition. She’s so preoccupied with doing this that at one point, she fails to see a low-hanging tree branch and is knocked off her horse.

Standing on the path, watching her steed as it runs on, she works to solve her problem. It’s then she notices a stone drain large enough for her to enter. She slides down it, lands on the back of her horse, and continues to race down the mountainside. All seems well, but her circuitous route has caused her to miss one of the check points!

It may be that 2021 isn’t much better than 2020, but I can choose to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus.

Arriving at the arena, she is just about to claim the victory when her trainer and mentor stops her with the words, “You took the short path, you cheated, Diana. That is the truth and that is the only truth. And truth is all there is… no true hero is born from lies.”

Her mom comes to comfort her, noting that she will grow and have other opportunities to excel. She concludes by saying, “This world is not yet ready for all that you will do.”

2020 was a tough year, full of grief, loss, anxiety, depression, and strife. If we are honest, given a choice to go through it again or avoid it altogether, we most certainly would avoid it. But here we are in the new year, and despite our optimism, I don’t think the pandemic will magically go away, I don’t think political strife will suddenly disappear, and I don’t think global tensions will vanish.

Diana tried to win the competition by taking a shortcut. The takeaway when I saw this part of the movie is that sometimes I take shortcuts in my relationship with Jesus and yet, I still expect to grow.

Sometimes I do the bare minimum, but I am committing to doing better now and in the days ahead: to avoid getting distracted by the things of this world, to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, and to be disciplined in spending time in the Word, in prayer, and in acts of service to others. Because it may be that 2021 isn’t much better than 2020, but I can choose to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, grow in my relationship with Him, and share His love with the world.

2021, whatever you have in store, bring it on! I plan to keep my eyes on Jesus, walk in His strength into the unknown, and shine His light in a weary world.

Cara Shonamon is co-lead pastor of Shawnee, Kansas, Church of the Nazarene.