It’s hard to believe that this year is coming to a close. When I started writing this blog this summer, I thought I’d “just see how it goes”. It was something God very clearly told me to do, so I figured, whether people read it or not, I am doing what He called me to do. I never would have imagined the response it has gotten or the countries it has reached. This post is my 30th!! What an amazing God we serve.
As we begin to move from lamenting the things of this year to considering the things to come in the year 2021, I want to challenge you to embrace the new year with intentionality. Around here, we have decided to choose one word to take with us into 2021. The goal of the word is to encapsulate what we hope to get out of the coming year, as well as how we want to shape our perspectives.
We have spent a lot of time asking for a specific word. We read the Bible and listened to the things God laid on our hearts. We explored words that others have chosen, including wisdom, patience, and my favorite – yield. There are so many ways to break these seemingly simple words down and then apply them to your life and the way you want to proceed with it.
nagging asking Ben if he had come up with his word yet. At the time, he had not narrowed it down. We were listening to our service online (staying at home with a sick baby). I always take notes during sermons with things from the sermon itself on one side of the page and words or thoughts that come to me during it on the other.
I wrote the word “discernment” on the left side of the paper. As Ben was sitting next to me on the couch, he could see what I was writing. He asked why I wrote that particular word; I had no idea. It didn’t have anything to do with the sermon we were listening to. I started flipping through my Bible trying to find instances or explanations of the word. Discernment. It wasn’t becoming any clearer.
Ben told me that when he has words rolling around his mind like that, he often goes to the actual dictionary to get the definition. So, that’s what we did. I Googled “discernment” and found the following definition: 1. The ability to judge well 2. Perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual guidance and understanding. Still didn’t mean much to me, but when I looked to Ben, he emphatically said, “That’s it! That’s the word I was looking for!”
I share this because it shows that just because something doesn’t mean anything to you, God may be using you to get to someone else. If you are willing to listen and obey, God can use you in ways you never considered.
The word that I am clinging to as we venture into 2021 is “abide”. I have become so captivated by the thought of abiding in God’s word. It means to accept or act in accordance with or to continue to be in a place for a significant amount of time.
I paused at first, thinking of the contexts I had most often heard this word used – abide by a set of rules. I didn’t want to get caught up trying to follow a set of regimented laws and miss the relationship that is most important. Then I heard a song that says, “Teach me to abide in You”.
There it was. Abide in You. Webster explains it another way: to remain indefinitely in existence or in the same state. That’s my goal for 2021. To grow closer to God. To remain in the Word. To constantly seek the Spirit. To abide in Him. Further, to be taught how to abide well.
There can be negative connotations to the word abide, including “to put up with” or to “tolerate”. I do not want to do either of those. I do not want to be satisfied with getting my fill on Sunday and when I sing my praise songs on the way to work. No, I want to be in a constant state of finding fulfilment in Christ and moving through this year knowing without a doubt that God is leading my steps.
Our pastor spoke a few weeks ago about getting fed on Sunday and then living the rest of the week starving. But what I love about what he said is that once we learn to read, pray, and worship, we can feed ourselves. There’s no reason for us to feel like we can only talk to God when the music and lighting is just right on Sunday morning.
Feed yourself. Abide in Him. Ask for discernment in your career, finances, marriage, parenting, and relationships. Find a word that you can embody as you go into the start of a new year. Then as the year progresses, ask for more. More of Himself. More satisfaction in Him rather than the world. More ability to get involved. More giving. More serving. More fellowship.
I know the coming year will bring more trouble, too. There are still so many unknowns, Coronavirus or not. But we serve a God who has already won every battle you will face. He will be there when you have no one else to turn to. He will be there when your house is full of friends again. He will be there to guide you through the sickness. He will be there to heal your hurts. He will be there to mend your mind.
I pray that you each go into this year with a renewed mindset. Don’t take too much of the heavy stuff into the new year. Make room for God to show you your word. Make time for Him so that you can form a relationship with him, whether for the first time or just the first time in a while.
As Harlow showed me her umpteenth boo boo the other day, we prayed for Jesus to heal it. She then called out “Where are you Jesus?” Maybe you have felt that way this year. “Where are you Jesus?” Where were you when I lost my job? Where were you when I couldn’t go to the event? Where were you when I lost my baby? Where were you when my loved one died? Where were you when my marriage fell apart? Where were you when I cried out for answers? Where were you when my friend took their life?
He’s been here all along. He will never leave you nor forsake you. But, friend, it’s a two-way street. You have to be engaged and be a participant in the relationship to fully receive what He is offering. But all you need to do is say “yes.” Then the word you have chosen will flow naturally and, through His goodness and mercy, you will become a light for others in the year to come.
And as a reminder, life is salty, but the journey is sweet.
John 15: 9-10 “Remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
Psalm 73:28 “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”
1 John 2:24 “Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.”
James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
Romans 12:2 “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.”
Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”