I have tried New Year’s resolutions more times than I can count. They have usually been more fleshly than spiritual – and let me tell you, I am not disciplined enough. One year I resolved to lose weight. That didn’t happen. Those desserts beckoned me and I succumbed. Another year I resolved to exercise more than I do now. That didn’t work because I injured myself. Another year I resolved to march into a New Year with an attitude of peace and goodwill towards all men and women. That happened until my first emotional crisis and my goodwill towards certain people sunk down the tubes.
Finally, it dawned on me to stop making resolutions of the flesh. Instead I tried spiritual resolutions. I resolved to read the Bible daily and committed to not miss a day. Did that happen? Yes, it happened, but not for long. It wasn’t grace-centered. I made it into a law. When I missed a day, I beat myself up. That resolution stopped when the Lord asked me if my spiritual resolution was guided by the flesh or by what He wanted for me that day. Our daily Bible reading has to be done as He leads us so we truly experience an authentic relationship with Him.
Since New Year’s resolutions did not work out well for me, I changed my focus and asked the Lord to give me a word/words, a scripture, or a phrase for the coming year. As the years have gone by, I have enjoyed journaling and observing God’s word to me come about. The word/words, phrases, or scripture that God gives me isn’t something I need to work to come to pass, but something I allow God to do. As He says in Isaiah 43:19,
Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert. (NASB)
If He give us a word, we need give Him all the glory for it coming to pass. It is His work in us, and not our own, that makes roadways in the wilderness and streams in the desert.
Last year the Lord gave me the word “expectation” and it did not mean what I first thought it would mean. I tried to figure out what “expectation” would look like for 2020, when He meant something totally different. My idea did not include masks, COVID-19, a divided country and all the strife. Yet, His word was very personal for my own life. I am reminded of the scripture I always fall back on when things don’t go the way I think they should go:
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could have imagined” Isaiah 55:8 (NLT).
When the Lord gives us a word, He desires us to be as a “watchman at the gate” and be open to participate in what He is doing in our lives. We are not to be presumptuous, defining for ourselves what it means. That only leads to disappointment and confusion. We are to be in a posture of expectation and hope, looking, listening, and trusting. A Word, a scripture, or phrase from Him is special and specific just for you. The words He has given me in the past are exactly what I needed or learned from Him that year.
This year I asked the Lord for my Word, and I am not presuming what it will look like. I learned my lesson from 2020. This year He gave me two words and I will follow His lead, journal daily, and watch these words play out in 2021. I challenge you for 2021 to ask for a Word, scripture, or phrase from the Lord.
Let’s bow and pray:
Lord, my desire for 2021 and going forth is to know you more. Will you please give me a specific word or words, a scripture, or phrase to focus on this year? I want to be a partaker of Your leading and not the author of what You give to me. In expectation, I will be a watchman and learn from You. Show me how I am to respond to what You give to me. Thank You, Lord, for giving me a specific word directly from You this year. You are amazing. Amen.