…. a word for the new year 

For the past few years, I’ve begun the new year with a word. A word that made me pause, one that meant a lot…. but I honestly couldn’t tell you what those words were at this point. And, I think that’s okay. One, because I have a horrible memory, but also because even if I don’t remember the exact word their purpose has always been felt throughout the year & they stick. This year….. I don’t have a word. I have a phrase. One that was prayed over my church during Watch Night service that causes streams of tears to roll down my face because I get it. I feel their intensity, remember how those words sounded during that prayer. Because I consider the love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy that had to overflow from the Lord as he spoke them over a people who had been through so much devastation. 

That phrase is: a hope and a future.

The last quarter of 2017 was rough for me for many reasons, but it ended with gratitude and so much anticipation for what the Lord was and is doing in my life. I felt unworthy, I felt as if I’d ruined my future & sold myself short……… I felt as if I was 3 bench presses away from ending my superset and literally had nothing left to give while more weight was being added to the bar with the expectations of finishing it out with the same energy, ability, and ease as if I’d just begun….. while looking at my trainer look at me telling me to “Do it.” I’m like “How?!” feeling defeated and then it clicks….

“My strength is made perfect in your weakness.” “Be still and know”. “Abide in me and I’ll abide in you. Apart from me you can do nothing.” “You are mine.” “The Lord gives good gifts to his children.” “I shall provide all you in according to the riches and glory in heavenly places.” ………. “I have come to give you a hope and a future.” 

… the truth that I know overshadowed every fear, every bit of shame, every ounce of impossibleness I’d felt, and caused me to stand and keep going. The belief that this new thing the Lord was doing and the struggles I’m enduring are necessary to get to what is waiting for me. The belief that the Lord has plans to give me a hope and a future is enough. So every year I begin reading The One Year Bible. Every year I read more of it than I did the year before, lol. I haven’t gotten through the entire Bible yet but I am committed to reading daily. (Y’all hold me accountable!) … but on my first day’s reading I saw things in the Genesis scriptures that I’d never seen before. In the few days that have followed after, I’ve continued to see more and more of God’s character in ways I’d completely missed before. 

In Genesis, I saw how the Lord declared that everything he’d created was good. I saw that everything he created was done in order, with intention, and not rushed. I saw that he named his creations. That what he says & plans come to pass and that he provides everything we need to live & accomplish his plans for us. 

I’ve also seen how the Lord watches over us and guides us in Matthew. In the New Testament reading, it tells of how an angel constantly led Jospeh to act during the pregnancy of, birth, and early life of Jesus. The protection that came from earnings and direction could only happen if the Lord was watching over him and his family. When Jospeh was afraid, there was the angel. When he’d made a decision, there was the angel. When enemies were on their way unbeknownst to Jospeh, there was the angel. 

This seems so basic, but is so exciting to me because it’s exactly what I need, what we need, to believe and trust in order to “be okay” no matter what comes our way. This gave me hope. Recognizing that while a lot of what I’ve been struggling deeply for the past few years weren’t purposed to break me, but in an effort to root me deeper in Christ. It made me realize that the things that happened over the past few months were incredibly hard and uncomfortable, but taught me to rely that much more on God; his grace is sufficient and he provides every step of the way. That what was and is happening isn’t okay, but it will be. That comfort in belief that things will work out is not built on the hope that people or their decisions would change, but rooted in the truth that the Lord is with me, he cares for me, he is watching over me, has a plan for me, and is providing for me. He freely gives forgiveness, hope, peace, joy, protection, guidance, and comfort in every situation we are in. And on top of all of that…. everything the Lord does is good. It is good, and he sustains us. He keeps us. He loves on us so well as we are going through this life that is said to be full of trouble. 

I’m excited about my commitment to read daily. I need to read, hear, learn, believe, & know so that my faith is strengthened. So that I can approach life’s circumstances confidently and boldly, without feelings ruling and controlling my behavior. 
As my pastor said last Sunday, when “….we have the Word in us, our faith is matured.” As our faith grows so do we. Our perspectives change, our responses different, and our interactions with this life are controlled and more Christ-like. 

If there’s one thing I’m certain I want this year, it’s a deeper maturity in Christ. To believe without a shadow of a doubt that with him and through him, his plans of a hope and a future for me will come to pass. I’m believing that for myself and for my daughters this year. Believing that we will experience a year of overwhelming freedoms, success, victory, provision, grace, and joy even when we are in the valleys as much as when we’re on the mountain tops. 

I’m believing the best for you, as well. That you would allow the Lord to lead you and you, that we all, take seriously his commitment to us. Life is hard, but our God is faithful and he will see us through. 

Happy New Year! 

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