As we begin a new year, many folks make New Year’s resolutions to be a better person by doing certain things (lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, have a positive attitude, you get the idea). Often, the resolution lasts about a week (two at the most), and then it’s gone, with the winter blues coming to replace them.
For the past several years, as I explained last year, my thought process is a bit different, with the results being both rewarding and fruitful. Instead of making “resolutions”, 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 knock 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 speaking to my heart – not audibly, but in His quiet way, when you just know.
For 2016, the phrase was “pay attention“, both in my external world as well as my internal world. Here is the verse that went with last year’s theme:
Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.
(Galatians 5:25 NLT)
For 2018, the theme is not a phrase, but a single word:
This theme actually started out of my Advent study and prayer, with Jesus’ name of Emmanuel, “God with us” (Matthew 1:23).
The focus in 2018 is on my internal world, on the “be” part of my life more than the “do” part. There will be plenty of “do’s”, but those are not the center or focus.
Here’s this year’s Scripture passage to accompany the “With” theme:
3 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
(Colossians 3:1-4 NIV, underlines mine)
Our life – hidden with Christ (v. 3).
Not only is He with us, but we are with Him!
A wise man once told his young friend, “The most important thing in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity. You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.”
(Dallas Willard to John Ortberg, recorded in John’s book, Soul Keeping, p. 23).
I have no idea how 2018 will work itself out, or what the year holds. I do sense that prayer will be an important factor, as will carving out time to just be with the Lord, reading His word, and interacting with other like-minded Christ followers. The rest is mystery and adventure waiting to unfold.
All I know is that He holds the present and the future, and I can rest and work in Him.