New Year’s Day has always been something of a personal spiritual holiday for me. I say always, and that’s obviously not true, but it has been such a day for me ever since my college years, which are farther away now than I care to admit. It has been a day of serious reflection, prayer and journaling. I love to think back on all that God has done in, through and for me in the past calendar year. I also love to look forward to all God can do in the year coming. It has been a real spiritual exercise for me each year. I like to think of it as one of the Old Testament rituals of placing stones as reminders of all God has done. My Ebenezers.
So, my pastor challenges each person in our church to ask God for a word each year. The word is meant to be a lens through which to see God in that year. It’s not a magical thing, and not really even a prophetic thing. Really it’s just a lens. I’ve heard this challenge for the past eight years I’ve spent learning under this pastor. I never really heard a word from the Lord for myself prior to the year beginning until the past three or four. I feel like I never heard it before because God knew how much I would anticipate and look for in a word. And that’s not the point. It’s not something that guides or directs us, but rather a lens that helps us see God. Once I got that, I think I was able to handle having a word.
In 2013, the word God gave me for the year was “winter”. I was pretty thrilled with the word at the beginning. I thought, “Oh good, nothing happens in winter”. I was longing for a quiet uneventful year after our year of “loss” in 2012. Then in March of 2013, all my hopes of a calm year melted away as quick as a snowman on a beach with one (unexpected) positive pregnancy test. I learned that year a lot about “winter”. I learned that things are happening in the winter, it’s just not the things you can see on the outside. You can see some more of my musings on winter here.
My word for 2014 has been “fun”. Again, something of a joke. Looking forward to this year last December/January I knew it was going to be a hard year. I was trying hard to work through some postpartum depression issues. We had many dark clouds hanging over our heads. The word “fun” seemed more like a command than a promise. And perhaps it was. But it was also a promise, because God had given me a verse to go along with my word: Psalm 126:5-6
Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Perhaps there were two words, fun and joy. A command and a promise. A lesson in the contrasting of the two. It was a super hard year. I tried to make it fun. I prayed every night that we could learn about fun from my sweet fun loving middle child. I made us go to a new park each week in the summer. I learned a bit about God from a verse from the sermon on the mount:
Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?
Yes! And God cares about those things as well. He cares about our fun! This may not seem super spiritual to you, but it was revolutionary for me. God gave me creative ideas for fun in our hardest financial year. A year in which I was worried about food and clothes. And in my soul I knew YES, life is more than this!! And God speaks to the more. He isn’t here to provide for our needs while we take care of all the extras. He wants all of us! He wants to provide for the life giving fun that is so important in our lives as well. This is just something of what I have learned about God through the lens of “fun”.
The word that keeps coming to my heart for 2015 is “prayer”. I already sense this overwhelming burden to pray. I can feel the lack of concentrated prayer in my life lately.
So, this is me, saying Happy New Year to you. I pray that you will have a time during this holiday to reflect on all God has done for you. Consider setting up some stones in your life to remind you. Something you can go back to and remember:
Thus far, the Lord has helped us.
I can assure you, He won’t stop now.