I bet you are waiting to turn the page on 2020.

Social unrest, anxiety, fear and the unknown … social distancing, online learning, masks and awkward hugs … It may be the first time in my life I wish things returned to how they were, to go back.

For me, it is a weird feeling to want to go back. I have always rung in the New Year with excitement about the future and the new promise it holds. The unknown, in normal times, is a welcome change.

But I understand the desire to want to turn back, especially after the “dumpster fire” of the year 2020, where nothing made much sense and there were more questions than answers. Nothing seems solid, so I understand wanting to turn back.

The Hebrews wanted to turn back in the wilderness, where their faith was not yet solid. This promise seemed too far and too unknown.

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Israel experienced wanting to turn back in exile, longing for their promise to return.

The disciples wanted to turn back as they witnessed Jesus arrested and placed on a false trial, longing for the days where they would eat and travel together and Jesus brought earthly healing.

Can’t we just go back!?

But during uncomfortable and painful times, something is learned, gained and appreciated. It’s a time of preparation for what is to come, to get ready to enter into a promise.

To quote an Avengers movie, “The world has changed. None of us can go back. All we can do is our best and move forward”

Forward into a promise.

That promise is Jesus, “Emmanuel,” knowing God is always with us in the wilderness, exile and trials of life. Inviting us to be ready for where God is calling us, into that which is new, and trying do our best working where God has placed us in this time.

Happy New Year!

Rev. Justin Fenger serves as the associate pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Park Rapids.