For the past several years I've chosen a word for the upcoming new year. It would actually be more correct for me to say that God has led me to a word that became my focus, my guiding principle for the upcoming year. The first year, my word was HOPE. The following year was TRUST. Then there was JOY. The year after that was ENDURANCE. This year my word was LISTEN. Each year God begins speaking to me about the word for the coming year in the months leading up to the years end. Typically the word begins to pop up frequently, in a rather obvious way, in my devotional reading and in other things that I read or hear. Sometimes I've received the word with happy expectation, like the word JOY. Other times very reluctantly, as in the case of the word ENDURANCE. Yet, some of my richest spiritual treasures were gleaned from my studies of everything the Bible had to say about endurance and its sister words, perseverance and steadfastness. I needed endurance the year God gave me that word, in ways I couldn't have foreseen, but even more I needed to know the great importance God places on endurance and the rich promises He has for those who endure to the end.
Two thousand sixteen, my word for the year has been LISTEN. The Lord has emphasized to me that true listening involves both hearing and heeding God. My most significant lessons about the word listen were found in the sweet and tender way God began to speak to me personally. I am not, by nature, a morning person. Neither am I a night owl, for that matter. Let me fall asleep somewhere around 11 and wake up sometime after 7 and I'm good. Until, this year. God began waking me up anywhere between 5:30 and 6:30. I would come wide awake with this sense of eager expectation to gather my Bible and journal, and of course my morning coffee, and to spend time with Him. I sensed Him wooing me, morning by morning, eager for us to spend time together. His Word was rich, my prayer times especially Spirit led. As the year drew near to the end, I was still waking up early but I began to let other distractions either delay my time with the Lord or cause me to rush them so I could get on to other things. Which brings me to my word for 2017, ABIDE. I want 2017 to be the year that I learn to ABIDE in, (dwell in, live in, stay in, continue in, wait in, remain in, and even to endure in), the place of sweet and intimate communication and connection with God that He led me to in 2016. That is my heart's desire, my most important resolution for the coming new year.