A Word for the New Year

With 2020 leaving (can I get an “Amen”)  and 2021 about to start, it is that time of year when I sit and ponder.  I think about the past year and the word that the Lord gave me. Do you have a word for the year that you keep in the forefront of your mind? Perhaps a phrase that helps guide and direct you to grow as a person or in your faith journey?

For 2020 the Lord gave me the phrase  “year of favor”.  I had a hard time accepting that declaration with the chaos and uncertainty swirling about me.  Where is this favor, Lord,  that you promised me? I felt stress, I felt a shaking in my core, I was unsettled and scared. We had huge changes within our family that I did not know how to traverse, my spirit was weary and on top of it all, there was a worldwide pandemic. How can this be favor?

And then He showed me.

It is in the quiet of the morning when I sit before Him and He hears my prayers and counts my tears. It is in the grocery aisle as what I need is available.  It is in the checkbook as I have enough to pay the bills and to help others. It is in the laughter of my children, the steadfast love of my husband, the goodness and grace of my ever present Lord. It is in the new relationships I am cultivating and the seasoned relationships I cherish. Favor is in the slowness that this year brought to appreciate the little things, and in the beautiful creation that surrounds me. His goodness is in each new sunrise and every painted sunset.  God’s mercy is in His  promise to never leave or forsake us. His favor is in the prayers of those who surround us with their love and encouragement, who sharpen us to be better than we were yesterday, and who help point us to the Light when the world has gone dark. His favor has been to bring people into my life who are vastly different than me, who have opposing views, to welcome them into my home and around my table, to lavish love on them and be a bridge builder. This is what favor looks like. He uses me, in my weakness and inability, in my brokenness and mess, to still spread His love.

His favor permeates my life and I needed that word for this year in particular, a reminder, an Ebenezer to help me not forget  that the Lord is with me, wherever I go, whatever I go through. He graciously comes alongside me during my struggles, showing me that these too will work together for good.  That is His favor.  To be able to rest in Him and His love, no matter what this year brought or what next year will bring. When I take my eyes off of Him, that is when I falter and fail. That is when my mind begins to spiral and my spirit loses hope. I focus on my circumstances, which are ever changing, rather than anchoring myself in the only thing in this life that is unwavering. Once I fix my eyes on Christ and surrender it all at His feet, then I have a lasting peace. I can traverse the storm that engulfs me, knowing, He will see me through, just as He has all the storms before.

He gives me a crown of beauty instead of ashes,

the oil of joy instead of mourning,

and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

He promises that I will be called an oak of righteousness,

a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

He doesn't say that it will be easy, or that life will be without heartaches, struggles or pain.

But He promises to be there in the midst of it all, being a place of refuge.

Christmas has drawn to a close, my home still reflects the light and joy of the season, and the house is quiet... so I sit. I sit with my Savior and ask Him where He wants to grow me. What truth does He want me to learn about His character over the next 365 days? What treasure will He bring that will help me understand more fully the riches of His goodness and grace?  

I encourage you to do the same. Be still and quiet before Him, listen in your spirit to the word He wants to speak to your heart this year. Write it down, meditate upon it, and then watch Abba reveal Himself to you in a mighty way no matter what this year may bring. 

Farther along we'll know all about it

Farther along we'll understand why

So cheer up my brothers, live in the sunshine

We'll understand this, all by and by.

Onward into a New Year,