Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A word.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  I have watched far too many times as friends have “failed” at their resolutions in the first few days of a new year and have given up completely, as though one bump in the journey signifies that all hope is lost.  I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl, and I know that if I were to make a resolution, I’d likely fall into that same trap.

A few years ago, a friend of mine challenged me to come up with a word that I would apply to my year, and print it on my heart.  I did that for several years, faithfully thinking of an area in my life in which I felt I needed some work, and assigning that word to myself.  It was a fun way to start the year, and I remembered that word sometimes.  It was relatively successful.

Two or three years ago I realized, though, that the words I was coming up with and the struggles I was addressing were typically pretty self-serving.  I started praying about it, and realized that the only way this “word” thing was going to be a successful plan in my own life was if I asked God to speak a word to me.  I figure He knows me better than I am willing to allow myself to know me, so if anyone can see what word I will need for the year it’s probably him.  Those God-breathed words have been exactly what I have needed each year, even when I haven’t understood them from the beginning.

A week or so ago, I began praying for my word for 2018.  I have spent a lot of time in that week, praying about my word.  Every time, God has told me to wait.  I’m not good at waiting.  Every time, I have heard God say some variation of “not yet,” and I have tried to be patient.  

Yesterday was January 1, 2018, and I hadn’t heard anything.

I think I maybe gave up.  I mean, maybe this was God’s way of telling me this “routine” had become just that...a routine...that was no longer meaningful in my life.

So it was that on January 1, 2018, when I went to be around 10pm, I was frustrated and unsettled, because I had lived in a new year for 22 hours already, and had no idea where my focus would be.  I had no idea what I should work on.  I prayed that God would open my heart to what he had in store for me this year, even if I didn’t have some special “word” by which to live.

An hour later, my son woke up vomiting.  

We were in a hotel, which is never the best place to be sick.  In an effort to keep him from waking everyone in the family AND all the rooms around us, I took him into the bathroom where we sat, ice bucket at the ready just in case, his head resting on the toilet, me on the edge of the tub.  After an hour, he was sobbing and I was near tears as well.  I was praying silently to myself.

“God, I am not feeling very patient right now.  Please help me stay calm and give me patience.  This isn’t his fault.”

Hmmmm...maybe my word should be patience?  Maybe I’m not doing that part right.  Maybe I need to work on patience, and God is trying to teach me that.  Geez, God.  Please don’t make my kid sick just to teach ME a lesson!  If patience is my word, please tell me.


My poor kid was miserable.  I was miserable.  I cried out to God again.

“God, I am exhausted.  He is exhausted.  Please give us rest.”

Ooooh, rest.  That’s a good word.  God’s already been working on me on that one.  Maybe rest is my word.  God, is rest my word?  If it is, I’d really like to be doing that right now.


“God, I don’t think I can do this much longer.  I am seriously about to lose it.  My son is sick, I am so tired, he can’t stop crying.  He’s in pain.  He needs your touch.  I need your touch.  I am so worn down.  I am SO worn down.  I’m weary, God.  Help us.”

I will renew you.

I heard those words.  I don’t know if they were audible words from God or if they were in my own head, but I heard them clearly.  “I will renew you.”  

I was finally able to get my son back to bed, and I couldn’t sleep because I was too thinking.  Maybe, just maybe, the word God wanted me to hear was RENEW.  I convinced myself it was, and that he wanted me to focus on that this year...that even when I am worn down, He will renew my strength.  I was content, and though I wasn’t able to go to sleep for several more hours, I decided I was ready for the year.

And then it was morning.

I am a researcher by design, so I needed to know the dictionary definition of “renew.”  (I know what it means, of course, but I need to know what the true denotation of the word is.)  I googled the word renew, and decided the definition I would focus on for the year was:

Give fresh life or strength to

Because obviously, that’s what God was planning to do for me this year.


Sometimes I think I have God all figured out.  I am pretty sure he laughs at me sometimes.

So I pulled up my Bible app and searched for “renew,” with every intention of finding a verse for the year that would support my idea of what God was telling me.  There are a LOT of verses in the Bible that contain the word renew.  I was scanning through them, trying to decide which would be “my” verse, and God said, “No, go back to the very first one.  THAT is the one I want you to focus on this year.”

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” - Psalm 51:10

No, God, you said you will give me strength.  You said when I am worn down, you will pull me back up.  You said you were going to do this, and I needed to trust you to do it.  

Read it again.

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” - Psalm 51:10

Okay, okay.  So clearly God has a different plan for the year than I do.  He sees me.  He knows me inside and out.  He knows I need renewal, and that renewal is a heart issue, not really a peace issue.  

A clean heart.

Something toward which I will need to strive.  Something for which I will have to work and pray.  Renewal isn’t something God is planning to do TO me, it’s something He wants to do IN me.  I get it now.

So I was set.  I was resolved.  Renew.  Right spirit.  Clean heart.  Got it, God.  Thanks.

And then this evening, I went to work out.  I attend a Revelation Wellness class, during which there is a devotion.  It’s an ongoing thread throughout the class, and throughout the class the instructors share words and verses as they feel led.  Halfway through class this evening, the instructor with the mic quoted Romans 12:2:

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind.”

I get it, God.  I get it.  


2018 will be a year of renewal in my life.  I can’t wait to see how God will work in me and through me...not TO me, as I had thought (hoped?), but IN me.  

Thank you, God, for being a God who works IN.  Thank you for being a God that helps us see our strengths and weaknesses and helps us grow.  Thank you for the work you continue to do in my life.


Jen Crum said...

Great word.

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