At the beginning of every year there is a lot of hoopla about choosing One Word, a one-word theme that resonates with your particular stage of life, and that you determine to focus on. Many Christians seek that word from the Lord, but plenty of non-believers choose to reduce their ambitious New Year’s resolution list to one word also.
It’s easier to remember one word and therefore easier to do. Or is it? I'm wondering how it’s going for those of you who chose/received a word this year.
Are you still praising? Resting? Seeking? Serving? Chilling? Are you still experiencing beauty? Faith? Freedom? Joy? Loveliness? Silliness? Serenity? Serendipity?
For the thirty or so years I have been a Christian, I have sought the Lord on New Year’s Day for a key scripture. I still did that this year, but I also asked the Lord for a one-word lesson or theme He wanted me to be attentive to.
I immediately knew what it was, and I didn't particularly like it. In fact, I was kind of envious of the people who had fun words like adventure and light, or mysterious words like hidden and key, or just downright peaceable words like tranquil and secure.
My word was anathema to the “me-generation” of which I was such a part.
It conjured up images of the recalcitrant kid sitting in the corner but standing in his heart.
Like cans tied to a newly-weds car, misconceived ideas of legalism, suffering, submission, and resignation rattled after it, distracting and deterring a pursuit of it.
And yet I knew that it was only through the practice of this that I would draw closer to the heart of the Father.
“From Paradise lost to Paradise gained, it is obedience that gives access to God.”—Andrew Murray
Obedience acknowledges a higher authority, and if that authority is God, I would like to think sheer love for him would make me willing. And often it has.
But there have been times when although I've done what I knew should, my attitude stunk. The Lord didn't have to wither up a shade-plant in order for me to see that my Jonah heart needed a dose of grace.
And that’s what I am learning about obedience this year—I'm getting the form down but the Lord wants the heart.
I know He is sticking close with me on this because just when I start patting myself on the back about how well I am learning servanthood, I am confronted with an even more demanding situation.
But obedience is not about resignation. Resignation “lies down quietly in the dust of a universe from which God seems to have fled”—Catherine Marshall. As someone told me this week, her hopes and dreams were like shattered glass. Her attitude was: “It is what it is.”
No. Obedience doesn't resign, it relinquishes, open handedly those dreams to a good, loving, gracious God, confident that He can pick up those shattered stained glass pieces and form a masterpiece.
I would love to hear how you are doing with your theme for the year. And if yours was “happy” or “joyful” do tell! But if you are walking through a trial of a time, may grace tie you securely to the hope you have in the One who relinquished his will, knowing resurrection triumphs over crucifixion.