As we launch into a new year, many people make a New Year’s resolution to be or do a certain thing. Often, the resolution lasts about a week or two, and then it’s broken, never to be picked up again until the following year.
My thought process is a bit different. Instead of making a “resolution”, I ask the Lord for a “theme” for the year. What is the common thread that should weave its way throughout my life in the next twelve months?
I also ask the Lord for a Bible verse to go along with the theme. Sometimes the verse comes first, sometimes the theme comes first, but they eventually come together as a cohesive unit.
This process of discerning a theme and verse takes time. It’s not a “sit down and hammer it out in twenty minutes” exercise. Often, it’s intentionally carving out time to remove distractions, quiet my heart, read Scriptures, and pray. Only then can I sense what the Lord is laying on my heart.
This year, the phrase that continues to pop up is “pay attention“. This comes in two parts:
- Pay attention to what’s going on around me – the external. As an analytical, that’s the easy part – taking in all the events and people and emotions that go with them. Sometimes the fire hose of external information coming in can be a bit overwhelming, but I still get the “big picture” of what’s going on.
- Pay attention to what’s going on within me – the internal. This assignment is tougher. It’s not so much that I am a guy, and like most guys, tend to ignore my feelings. The Lord has shown me that I need to listen to what’s going on in my heart and soul. The challenge this year is deeper – to pay attention to what’s happening in my mind, my heart, and my soul as I observe and process the events of the world around me.
- Do I “take every thought captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5) as I process the events of the day or moment?
- When something good happens, do I stop and thank the Lord for His goodness and Providence in my life? Or do I forget the Lord is the source of all good and claim the victory as “good luck”, or worse, of my own doing in my own power?
- When something not-so-good (aka “bad”) happens, what does that do to my “abiding” in Christ (John 15:1-17)? Do I remain steadfast in His love, or do I let the event or person temporarily derail my walk with the Lord?
Here’s the verse that goes along with this theme of “pay attention”:
25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
(Galatians 5:25 NIV)
Here’s another version that expresses Paul’s thought well:
25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
(Galatians 5:25 NLT)
Abiding in Christ means learning to walk in step with His Holy Spirit that lives inside me – not running ahead, not lagging behind. As a follower of Jesus, I am as close as I will ever be (or can be) to Him this side of eternity. My challenge is to listen to His “still, small voice” as I walk along life’s road each day and each moment of every day.
That’s my theme and verse for 2017.
What about you? Have you taken the time to hear what the Lord is laying on your heart? Feel free to share if you’re so inclined. Not sure yet? That’s OK as well – will be my privilege to pray for you.