"Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

What’s the Word?

The mantra chanted repeatedly in circles around this time of year is familiar to most of us. “Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions?” spills out of mouths like the greeting, “Merry Christmas.” People’s responses range from scorn because of past failures to excitement for what might be achieved.  I’ve failed miserably when making goals. One year I planned to eliminate sweets from my diet. In the midst of eating a piece of cake, I realized I forgot about my goal. The rest was history including that resolution. Since then, I’ve learned tips about making goals more specific and measurable. Perhaps I would’ve succeeded if my resolve were to cut sweets to three times a week instead of never eating them again. I grasped the real lesson:
never again make a resolution involving chocolate.
I enjoy creating goals for the New Year, focusing my energy with God’s help in various areas, such as family, spiritual, physical, ministry and leadership. In recent years, however, I’ve also prayed about a “word” that will characterize my year. Around November, I ponder what word God might speak to me. Many times, this word will crop up as I’m reading my Bible or another book. I may sense that He’s teaching me a trait through a family issue. I always hope it’s not patience because I really don’t want to take those field trip experiences.
A journal writer sporadically since a teen, I love looking back at what I’ve written. In my diary days, I wrote inspiring notes about boys I liked and ugly words about my sister: “She thinks she’s pretty, but she’s not.” It’s good for a chuckle but not much else. As an adult, I’ve vented and vomited words on the page. I’ve prayed and praised the God to whom I owe everything. And, I’ve remembered and recounted the events of each year. So, as I roll back the time to 2010 when my word was “flourish,” I read that it was filled with tough times, and I wrote, “I’m not sure that (flourish) really occurred in my estimation.” It felt much more like failure to me.
Last year, my word was “God’s Goodness.” Okay, that’s two words, but who’s counting?  The year began with “my brain is encased in a thick fog this morning after a migraine that felt like it was going to blow its innards like Mt. St. Helens. My left ear throbs as if someone were poking me with sharp needles.” Off to a great start so far. I began to wonder about my chosen “words” when I spent the first two week s of January 2011 in bed several days with various sicknesses…migraines, dizziness, ear pain and vomiting.  Intersperse about a million snow days when the kids were hanging around, and that’s a little too much goodness for me!

God’s Goodness

Yet, what God taught me with those two words over the course of the year was that His goodness had nothing to do with my circumstances.  In one journal entry, I wrote, “The year can only go up from here, right?! Right?! My words, “God’s goodness,” for 2011 sound almost humorous. Still I know that just because my circumstances have been bleak doesn’t mean He isn’t good. It’s all in the perspective, right?” Like a roller coaster, the year was up then down, yet I experienced His goodness in all of it. Our circumstances may not be outwardly good, but God can use them for our eternal good. What I found is that God’s goodness permeated each event in my life last year. It’s a lesson I will not forget.
So, what does this year hold? What word am I hanging on to? Drum roll, please….This year, I believe it’s “grace.” Grace for me when I blow it, and grace for me to offer others. Beyond that, I’m waiting to see how the year unfolds and what God will show me!  Now, it’s your turn.
What “word” will God give you?

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