My year-end thoughts were pretty clear on a couple of things:
- I knew what I’d learned this year: to persevere in prayer, especially for loved ones who don’t yet know Christ; always keeping in mind that God answers/does things that are far above what we can ever think or imagine. Of course, I knew this before, but this year I “learned it more”. (And just as an “extra”, this was also the year that I learned to “talk” less–even though I can still post quite a few brag-photos, several days can go by before I update my status; and of course it’s now rare to update my blog… I got tired of myself!)
- I knew what I wished for myself, for next year: that I would be better at sharing Christ, face to face. It’s easy to say things on Facebook, or in a blog. But face to face, I just don’t do it. Even though my “calling” seems to be to help Christians grow; and not that I want to be forced or uncomfortable. But there is an urgency after all, just like it’s important to let people know that you love them (that idea that you never know when you won’t have the chance to say it again). Yeah, speaking of love…
Year-end is also time to think of my One Word, and what it might be for 2017. It hasn’t been anything amazing for me in the past, but I still enjoy doing it. As it is with anything when I ask God for wisdom, it begins with me having absolutely no idea. Yet, there’s usually excitement, as I think of how willing God is to answer, when you ask for wisdom or guidance; and so there was this time.
In my email was a link for a “personal retreat”, which I worked through without much enthusiasm for their questions–since there was no “personal baggage” from 2016 that I needed to attend to, no real “failures” to deal with and move on. Unless it was the failure mentioned above: not sharing the gospel face to face. I’d read somewhere recently that if we really love people, we should have a desire to share Christ with them….
Yeah, maybe that was it. Knowing that I can be quite self-absorbed, often thoughtless, and having a slightly guilty feeling about all that I possess for my personal comfort… maybe it’s because I need to love better. Even when we had International students over for Christmas Dinner, the main reason was to make sure of a good “crowd” for that Christmas-y feeling, and to expand our own horizons by meeting people from another country. So don’t pat me on the back for any sacrifice on my part!
“Love” is such a common, over-used word. When it first suggested itself for my One Word for 2017, I totally rejected it. Way too general! But a One Word after all, shouldn’t be based on how “chic” it is. So I read over the verses provided at the end of that “personal retreat” (“To help refine your search, examine a few scriptures that speak of virtues that have the potential to become your One Word: 1 Corinthians 13:4–8, Colossians 3:12–17, 1 Peter 4:7–11, Galatians 5:22–23.”) And of course, the main “virtue” in these verses is Love. Also, I’d just read a reminder that God’s assignment for us each day, can be accomplished if we concentrate on truly loving those we are in contact with. (Mind you, this will always have in the background for me, the lesson learned in Perspectives: that we humans are not capable of keeping up a love-for-the-world, it usually becomes too exhausting. We do things/be missional because God commands us to.)
I’ve never been so sure, so quickly, about my One Word for the next year. It was what happened at the end of this devotional time, that solidified it (even though I had to let it “percolate” overnight). Thinking about how one year, I talked about how it was fun to look at the One Word in an opposite way, or come at if from a different angle, I soon sensed God clearly saying to me, “This is what I want you to remember about this One Word, Love:
I. love. you.”
Of course, we always know that God loves us, and there have been many times over the years, that I’ve been overwhelmed with God’s love. When I was a teenager, “God is love” was such a common phrase that I think we became numb to it. In recent years, my worship has been inspired by God’s mightiness, his sovereignty, etc. Perspectives brought home the amazingness of God’s work through the centuries, and my Word for last year highlighted one of my favourite truths, that God. is. working–a silver “thread” that you can’t always see.
Last year’s word was mainly a way to praise God, and note his wonderful creation, through posting photos on Facebook (with a weird hashtag). This year, I guess I’ll have to start blogging again, to keep track of this word!
Actually, it’s something I’ve been praying for awhile–if you think I’m praying for you, I probably am, and this is what I’ve been praying: that you would be overwhelmed with God’s love. As I have been.
Because everything else kinda follows.