Losing 2020 Vision by Caleb Knauff

I am stressed, man. I guess I should probably lead in with a, “Good morning!” or something like that; however, even simple niceties feel pretty disingenuous. We have been getting hit harder and harder. Regardless of what side of whichever fences you are on, we all can see that times are tough. Who foresaw this? Honestly. Honk your horns if, back in December, you raised a cup to Auld Lang Syne and thought about an impending pandemic. Honk your horns if you added, “attend civil rights protests” to your list of New Year’s Resolutions. Honk your horns if “murder hornets” made an appearance on your 2020 Bingo Card. If you honked, you and I need to chat later about some lottery numbers. 

Nobody could have foreseen these events. All of those horrible dad-jokes about 2020 vision now seem so much more ironic. Now, I am not an expert on viral diseases. I am not a doctoral candidate for race relations and civil rights. Surprise, right? For the rest of my time up here, I am going to speak at you in a way that is not sufficient. How could it be? How can the words of a 27 year old basket-case overcome the death of a sports icon, a new virus that threatens every aspect of our ways of life, a crippled economy, political finger-pointing, AND the unjust murder of George Floyd and subsequent fallout? How can I even see the full picture when I can’t keep up with dayto-day news? Everything I say is reductive, it is not enough. 

But that is why I want to give all of us vision that surpasses 2020. Stop aiming your sights on 2020. Stop aiming to have “perfect” vision. Make your vision three. That’s right, three. In times of great upheaval, it can be hard to know where to look. I say, stick to the numbers we know. Three. Look to three different places. 

One: Look to God. No bonus points for any of you who guessed that God would be one of those places. Yet, we consistently need to be reminded to actually look to God and look for God. I claimed earlier that nobody could have foreseen all of the events crammed into six short months. That should be amended to “none of us.” God has seen all of this. His hand is in all of it. No, I am not pointing an angry finger at God and blaming Him for putting this upon us. No, I am not standing here to say that this is all a series of punishments that we deserve for being a sin-filled people. Remember, the point is to look further. God CAN foresee all of this, so shouldn’t we trust his vision? Shouldn’t we align our vision with His? Look to see the hand guiding COVID victims out of the hospital and back home. See God in an Atlanta breeze blowing tear gas away and deescalating a tense situation. 

Matthew 7:7 tells us, “seek and ye shall find.” You will find God wherever you look. Find the perspective and put your belief where it should be. Put your belief in the loving creator. Look to the one God, Father Almighty, maker of heaven and Earth, of all things SEEN and UNSEEN. The more you look for God in these times, the more you will find Him. 

Two: Look to Each Other. Again, this second point is nothing ground-breaking. And AGAIN, we need it reiterated. Get your eyes off of the pain and stress, and look to the people around you. As I get crushed underneath these woes, it gets hard to pull myself back up. That is when I need to look for the hand reaching for me. It has always been there. Every single time. I just often forget to look for the help I need. Don’t do that. Look up. Find those in the community that can help you. 

If you ever find yourself thinking, “Well I don’t have anyone near me that can understand.” Or, “Nobody I know can help with this.” That is you turning back to your “supposed 20/20 vision.” Lose it. Gouge those eyes out. I once again turn to Matthew here, this time Matthew 5:29, “If your… eye causes you to sin gouge it out and throw it away. It is better to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell.” That is very dramatic, but ask my mom, ask my wife, I have a flare for the dramatics. Most of the time this passage is used to warn you from the sin of lust when you see an attractive person. I would like to interpret this as a little more figurative and widely applicable. If you have a part of your inner voice telling you that you are completely alone and that is all you see, that is a sin. That is a shadow voice of evil trying to take over and tainting your perceptions. Cut that voice out like cancer. Better to lose that flawed perspective and risk some of your independence, than to succumb to it and be dragged down into a depressive spiral of self-reliant self-loathing. Trust me…trust me. 

If this voice crops up, look up. Look around this parking lot right now. Each and every one of these people cares about you. See how they are reaching out for you. If that doesn’t work, there are strangers that care about your physical, mental, and emotional health. If you ever doubt this, look to the good in people. Look to the hands held out to others. In times of social distancing and quarantine, I saw groups of Star Wars nerds line the parking lots of hospitals at six foot intervals, dressed in full costume, just to give the people inside some hope and well deserved gratitude. I have seen people lay down on concrete for nine minutes in solidarity for a man who was killed in a completely different country. I have seen people in the cars in front of me, who, without even knowing it, dragged me out of a pit of despair and back into the light. Look for them. I know they’re looking for you. 

Three: Look to yourself.  Lose your 2020 vision by looking in a mirror. You are not powerless. In our second lesson today, Paul affirms this, saying, “the word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.” The means to your own salvation is in you. The means to sharing that salvation with others, is in you.  This applies to an everlasting life. It also applies to your own advocacy and power in general. You are not powerless. You are in fact powerful. Take time to look inward. And I really mean take time. Don’t rush this step. We live in a world that has taught us that humility is key, but not too much or you’re a pushover. Confidence is awesome, but not too much or you’re a self-involved jerk. All of this can make the act of simply looking in a mirror torturous. It’s easy to see our own flaws, and harder to search for the good. Inside and out. Take the time to know yourself, and know that you are a force for good. You can, and should be, one of those reaching out to others.           

Once you know this, see yourself doing something with it. Looking in that mirror should inspire you to do something. I know for me it has been inspiration to eat less and work out more. But even deeper, it has been a call to recognize the privileges I have and trying to use them so others can attain the same comfortable life I am afforded. I beg you all to look to yourselves and what you can do. We have so many in this congregation who have been and continue to do this in stunning ways. If you can make music, write a song that will change the world. If you can build, build the thing that solves a problem. If you can vote, vote for what you truly believe in. Wipe out the 2020 vision by turning your sights to what YOU can do to make something, anything better. Then, do it. 

I’m no optometrist, but three vision is starting to sound better than 20/20 vision. This year has so far essentially been a dumpster fire of general events. But that is only when you choose to look at it that way. My wife and I kept noticing a trend year after year from 2015 through 2018. That trend is best summarized by our outlook as the year ended. “Man, some good things happened this year, but what a crappy year that was.” We said this for almost four years straight. That is until Ali decided that we couldn’t see things in that perspective anymore. We had to flip our perspective. Thus, the viewpoint changed to, “Man, some bad things happened. But we are happy, and healthy, so it was a good year.” Flip your perspectives. Look to God. Look to the good people surrounding you. Let them look to you. And look to yourself. In all these things, I guarantee you will find far more of the good. Please remember these words, and go get yourselves some 3D glasses.