I have a love/hate reaction to the whole ‘word for the year’ phenomenon. You know, the practice of asking the Lord for a word or a theme, if you will, for the coming new year. I dislike it because we humans have a tendency to confuse the effects of that pastrami sub with double cheese we had for lunch with the nudging of the Holy Spirit. We’ve all seen far too many Christians with egg on their faces after loudly proclaiming the Lord told them something that didn’t come to fruition.
In fact, the only times I truly feel the Lord Himself gave me a word for the year, it didn’t pan out as I’d expected. The last time was in ’16. My word was ‘beloved’ and it ended up being the hardest year spiritually of my adult life. So these last couple of years I haven’t asked. (Technically, I didn’t ask for that one either…) I figured God could keep His word for me secret, thank you very much.
But then, I do love the fact that words have such power. Have you ever noticed that everyone’s word tends to be super positive? Hopeful? You never see someone say, “My word for the year is hardship. I’m so excited to see what the Lord will do with that!” No, we see words like purposeful, dream, rest, hope…beloved. Deep down we know what it is we need. We know when we need to slow down and rest, when we need to be reminded of God’s love for us, when we need to focus or become more purposeful in life. We know, but more importantly, our gracious Heavenly Father knows, and so whether the word comes from Him or from our own imaginings, I suppose it’s a good thing, yes?
And since our God uses all things for the good of those who love Him, I suppose it doesn’t really matter where our word originates, or even what it is. My year of the super massive black hole was hard, but guess who was there in that hole with me? Jesus. At the end of the day, how much more beloved can it get, that my God would sit in the pit of dark depression with me, who would allow me to rant and rail and question Him, then gently lead me, limping, back to the light? Beloved? Oh, yes.
So this year, the word that has been popping up again and again for some time now is renewal. I don’t know if it’s the Lord, or if I keep seeing it because, at a certain point I just began looking for it. You know, like the new car thing where you buy a new car and suddenly start seeing the exact same make, model, and color everywhere? We do tend to find whatever it is we’re looking for, don’t we?
Regardless, I think I’ll just grab on to it and own it. I haven’t the foggiest idea of what my Father will do with it, but I do know it will make me more like Jesus if I let it.
Happy New Year, my friends! May our gracious Father show you many wonders and bless you richly in this coming year. May we become more like Christ every day, and may we be filled with words of hope, yes?
(I would love to hear your word, if you have one! Let me know in the comment section.)
Grace and peace,
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28, CSB
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. -Romans 12:2, ESV
That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. -2 Corinthians 4:16, NLT
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