A Letter on New Years Eve (2020)

Dear friends and loyal readers,

Somehow, we’ve made it to the end of 2020, the strangest year of my lifetime (and probably yours, too).

Aside from the election and virus drama (which is ongoing and not insignificant), our family has had an interesting year. We’ve had some exciting professional changes, as well as some personal growth in our local friendships. We’ve juggled our two oldest son’s education as it fluctuated from virtual (back in the spring) to in-person (this fall), along with the workload of my senior year at Lee University. We’ve stayed home a lot, learned to use an Instapot, enjoyed the Mandalorian, and read a ton of books.

Have you been reading more than normal?

Without planning it, my personal reading list (outside of required reading for school) has centered on the stories of individual Christ-followers. This has unintentionally been the Year of Biographies–I’ve read about Brother Yun, Corrie Ten Boom, Oswald Chambers, Madame Guyon, and now I’m devouring an excellent one (just released this year!) on the apostle Paul.

There’s just something about hearing of another believer’s walk with the Lord during their unique historical time that encourages me. To read and ponder the way that God’s love was real, interactive, and enduring to our brothers and sisters in the past is enough to spur me on in faithfulness toward the new year.


And now a word on that word…

Faithfulness.

Paul often uses a unique little Greek word called pistis (or its other forms, such as pistois) when describing the saints who remain faithful to the Lord.
 
We see it used in Ephesians 1:1, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will: To the faithful saints in Christ Jesus at Ephesus.”
 
And also, in Col. 1:2, “To the saints in Christ at Colossae, who are faithful brothers and sisters…”
 
And in 2 Tim. 2:2, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
 
But the word is a tricky one…it conveys so much more than merely a one-dimensional loyalty. Yes, it carries that meaning–to be faithful IS to be loyal and true, as much as it depends on our efforts.

Paul’s pistis though is used elsewhere (and commonly) as “faith/faithful” (Col. 1:7, 4:7; 1 Thess. 5:24; 2 Thess. 3:3; 1 Tim. 1:12), but also as “believers” (Acts 10:45, 16:1; Gal. 3:9), “belief”(1 Tim. 4:3, 4:12, 5:16), and “trust/trustworthy” (1 Cor. 4:2, 7:25; 1 Tim. 1:15, 3:1; Titus 3:8). It certainly communicates our loyalty to the Lord as a person, but it goes beyond this (our own strength), as if it is an agreement, or participation, in the work that God is already doing in and through us.
 
To me, Paul is trying to convey something (both) active and spiritual that goes back-and-forth between us and the Lord–a kind of synergistic movement of faith and belief extended as a gift from the Spirit to our hearts. So then, our faithful response is to give it right back in loving trust of God and His will. For such a tiny word, it packs a punch of rich meaning.


Remaining Faithful in the New Year

It’s obvious to say that we don’t know where this next year will take us–as a nation, as the Church, as individuals. I’ve always kind of rolled my eyes at the social media trend of choosing a “word” for the year (I can be cynical like that…forgive me!) but this small, strange Greek word of pistis seems to be following me around lately. Maybe the Spirit is nudging me as if to say, “Hey. You’re not too cool for a word-of-the-year. Here, have fun with this one.”
 
I’ll take the challenge. I want more pistis in 2021, whatever that means!
 
Increase my faith, Lord.
Make me one who is faithful to You (despite my circumstances).
Help me to receive the gift of a deeper belief, by your Spirit.
Help me trust You fully, with all of my being.
 
Maybe this will be your word for the coming season, too. I’m holding on to the only One who has been perfect faithfulness and love to generations past, and who will be so for us in the year 2021. Will you stand with me as faithful saints?


As always, I am forever grateful for your support in opening these emails and reading my words. Thank you for being generous with your time like that–I will never get over it! Be on the lookout for more from me in 2021. I have a couple of new projects and some published work that I would love to share with you very soon…

Until then,

Sara


 

Published by Sara Beth Longenecker

Sara Beth Longenecker is a writer and blogger based in Nashville, TN. She helps women sort through the noise of our culture by bringing them truth, beauty, and everyday theology.

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