Lord, have mercy! We’ve made it to the end of 2020!! There were definitely times throughout this year that I wondered if the end would ever arrive. But with every difficult day, God’s promises were sustained. The sun continued to rise and set, the world continued to revolve, and we continued to put one foot in front of the other each day.
With a new year comes a new One Word. For those of you not familiar with One Word, it’s based on the book One Word That Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page. The idea is that we don’t need endless lists of goals and resolutions. Instead, if we spend time with God in prayer and meditation, He will lead us to our One Word, the word that will help define our year, our goals, and our attitude. I’ve been doing this for several years and have found that the only year it did not truly impact me was the year I chose my word instead of allowing God to choose it for me. Last year around this time, God gave me my One Word for 2020. It was uncharted. When He placed that word on my heart, he also placed Hebrews 11:8 alongside my word. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
For a little background, in December 2019 I was serving as pastor of a church, preparing for ordination, working part-time as a mental health therapist, and serving as spiritual director for an ecumenical community. I had no idea that BIG changes were on the way. So uncharted seemed very odd to me. What do you mean, God, when you say “uncharted?” What does this verse mean for my life? Quite frankly, it was a bit scary to have such a word and verse given so boldly to me. But, alas, there it was and I knew I had to be obedient to Him.
Clearly 2020 has been uncharted for all of us in some way or another. Living through a pandemic is something I would dare say none of us had on our top ten list of things to do. We have experienced a wide variety of things we never expected: shut-downs, quarantines, protests, riots, political unrest, election uncertainties… this list can go on and on. Add to that my own challenges. I never anticipated losing my church, being canceled by my denomination, and having my ordination stripped simply because I chose Jesus over the world. I certainly never expected the loneliness, depression, anger, resentment, and isolation that would follow. Yes, it was certainly a year that could best be described as uncharted.
I received this bracelet early spring and have worn it every day. On those days when I would question God as to why, I would catch a glimpse of this bracelet with my word and be reminded as to why – uncharted. “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
So now 2021 is knocking on the door and I for one am anxious to get that door open. As difficult as 2020 has been for us all, I do have a great amount of hope in 2021. I have always believed a new year is a special thing because it’s a new opportunity to change, grow, and surrender to God.
For the past 4-6 weeks, I have been actively reflecting over my 2020 One Word while eagerly listening for my new One Word. Remember, it’s not a word you pick. It’s a word and verse given to you by God. My word for this year is revelation. Lord, have mercy! Trust me when I say that God and I have tussled over this one. Clearly, the first thing I thought when I received the word was the Book of Revelation. But praise God that is NOT what He means. How do I know? My verse was revealed a couple of weeks later.
I see what you’ve done. Now see what I’ve done. I’ve opened a door before you that no one can slam shut. You don’t have much strength, I know that; you used what you had to keep my Word. You didn’t deny me when times were rough. Revelation 3:8
Y’all, I am not sure what it all means but I do know that God is going to be doing something quite amazing. It reminds me of Isaiah 43:18-19 — “Do not remember the past events, pay no attention to things of old. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?” Think about that for a moment. God is never changing. He was, is, and forever will be. His word is as steadfast today as it was when first spoken to the prophets of old. And yet, when we are true to God, true to who He is, He creates within us something new. I find that amazing.
God is fully aware of my failing strength throughout 2020. He is fully aware of my obedience. And now He is promising me a revelation, an awakening, a revealing of something that will altar my life. I feel like I know what is about to happen but God’s plans and my thoughts are not always (seldom actually) in sync.
Clearly, 2021 is going to be a year of revelation in my life. It’s going to be a year of obedience so that I don’t miss those things He reveals to me. It’s going to be another tough year. I have no doubt about that. When you experience revelation in your life, it almost always requires a purging of things … and sometimes people … from your sphere because you realize that they are holding you back. And that is okay.
In the discussion guide from the One Word book, a question is posed that think is a powerful one to sum it all up. “As you begin with the end in mind, think of ways that this year’s One Word might become part of your legacy…part of your life’s story. What are three things you hope others will say about you when this year’s One Word journey is over?” I know what I hope for… it’s the same thing I have hoped for since accepting Jesus Christ. I hope that people see Jesus within me. I hope that as 2021 reveals it’s new promises to me, that I am obedient only to God. And I hope that others experience a holy revelation in their own lives because they were able to see me walk through the door God opened, glorifying Him in every single step along the way.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!