As the old year draws to a close, I always pray for a word for the new year. Something I ought to keep in mind through the coming months. Something God whispers to my spirit.
Sometimes I get one. Sometimes I don’t.
For 2018, there was no word that stood out. And given 2017, I didn’t mind that. See, the last word I received was Overcome. An encouraging word, a word of promise. But a word that was also a warning. Even as I got it, I was hedging. “Maybe it’s not for me to live–maybe it’s for me to give.” And it was, in a way. In May of 2017, my sister was diagnosed with lymphoma. I sat down to write her some encouraging cards to take to the hospital with her for her first treatment and was looking up scriptures to include, and one of them was the very verse that inspired that Word of the Year. I got chills, let me just tell you. And I knew. I knew that word had been for my whole family, and I knew my sister would overcome this cancer–that God would overcome it. I wrote to her about how God had given me that word six months ago. And I was so, so glad He did.
Even so, when no whispers of yearly words came to me in 2018, I kinda breathed a sigh of relief, LOL.
But I was praying yet again for a word this past week. Usually when they come, it’s when I’m busy. Often in church. During a song or a sermon, a word will just LEAP at me. This time, I sat down and prayed, “Lord, would You give me a word for 2019?” In usual fashion, my thoughts went something like this: “I remember when You gave me Shine. And then Mine. And…”
It wasn’t a leap, a brilliant flash. It was the softest of whispers. Soft enough that I kinda went, “Huh? Was that me or You, Lord?”
Given that I still had a week left in 2018 at that point, I let it simmer and stew. I waited for something louder, brighter, more energetic. But every time I drew that word back out, something settled softly around my heart.
We all know what it means. A declaration of what we mean to do. A reason to expect something. But when I sought out a Bible verse to go along with the word, something else struck me. That in the Bible, promise isn’t just used in that way we use it. It’s used in the same way blessing is–a word that itself has power. God gave the PROMISE to Abraham. And then God gave the PROMISE of His Spirit after Jesus. God gave the PROMISE of salvation and eternal life and a return of His Son.
Promise doesn’t just carry expectation, but power.
Biblegateway.com recommends 2 Peter 3 when one does a keyword search on promise:
…scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” …
8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
What struck me about this passage is that what mankind sees as a breach of promise, God sees as its ultimate fulfillment. When time drags on and we think He’s forgotten us, that’s when He’s exercising His mercy. He’s giving us time. He’s preparing us. He’s drawing us to Him.
I don’t know how the word promise will play out in 2019. But it will have me waiting with expectation. It will have me clinging to His Spirit and welcoming His timing, be it long or short. And it will be a constant reminder that He knows the plans He has for me…even when I don’t.
Do you pray for a word for the year, or perhaps make resolutions? If you’d like to share, I’d love to hear!