Happy New Year 2020! The picture above is the first sunrise of the year that greeted me this early morning.
Over the years, it has been my pattern to write down a word or theme for the coming year. I’ve had themes around prayer, Bible reading, “firstfruits,” the Lord being our Shepherd, “whiter than snow,” “God is Light,” the fear of the Lord, and others. Each year I’ve written about the word or theme to record it.
Last year (2019), I never got around to writing about it here, but I want to capture it.
When I sat down with my new calendar at the start of 2019, I didn’t have any kind of word or theme in mind. In fact, I almost decided not to choose one. But as soon as I began to think and pray about it, it all came together so quickly. It wasn’t a word I’d been particularly pondering; everything simply pulled together.
The word was steadfast. The idea is firm, established, sure, stable, rooted, grounded, immovable, settled, disciplined, having a foundation. It also has the idea of not growing weary, not giving up, resolute, unwavering, standing firm, a fixed heart.
The verse that I found to go with this word for the year was 1 Corinthians 15:58, “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”
As is sometimes the case, once you notice a word, it seems to appear everywhere. I realized that I can be steadfast because God is steadfast. It’s His steadfastness that can produce mine.
2 Thessalonians 3:5 “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.”
As we went through the ups and downs of 2019, I didn’t realize how much I would need steadfastness, but I pray and trust the Lord has developed this more in me through that word focus last year. With each situation, I could think about what it would be to remain steadfast instead of fearful, to be steadfast under trial, to endure and persevere (James 1), to become more established and rooted.
This year 2020, a word came to me several days ago. Sometimes I find it hard to focus. This can make it hard to pray, to read the Bible (or anything), to study, to be organized, and simply to be still. There’s no doubt social media is a contributing factor in this. I enjoy social media, and I use it in my work. I find myself opening my phone to check something, immediately being distracted by the first image on the screen, wasting five or ten minutes scrolling through while adding my few likes or hearts, and then wondering what I was looking for to begin with! Can you relate?!
This inability to focus is probably also represented by the fact that I only had four posts here at my blog last year! To sit and think, to plan and write, it all requires focus and prayer and study.
So I need greater focus, a longer attention span, the ability to be still and ponder.
With this in mind, the word that came to me was quiet. Quiet seems to encompass the stillness desired, the environment to be cultivated, the place I might find mental rest.
As I began this New Year, I wondered if this truly was a fitting word. Other ideas floated through my head. But when I went to start my “quiet time” — which as I’ve just described isn’t always so quiet internally — I came to an Advent reading as I neared the end of my Advent devotional, Repeat the Sounding Joy. (And yes, I didn’t finish this excellent book on time because I didn’t find enough quiet!)
The devotional talked about Mary, how she treasured and pondered up things in her heart. It referenced the verse 1 Peter 3:4, “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.”
The author Christopher Ash asked the reader to “ponder with me today about pondering, to meditate on meditating!” He writes, “We are to follow her [Mary’s] example of beautiful, thoughtful, pondering faith. Somehow, in her simplicity and humility, she grasped what much more sophisticated people have often failed to understand: that Jesus is to be treasured and pondered.” And he prays,
“Teach us the precious habit of meditating on Jesus and of counting Jesus as uncountable worth.”
So in the “quiet” of 2020 that I hope to find and cultivate, I’ll hope to be able to ponder, meditate on, and treasure Jesus. Quiet will help me focus in prayer and study of the Word. Quiet will keep my social media outlets closed at key times, not running throughout my day. Quiet might help me to not waste time and to maximize the time I have! Quiet will enable me, by God’s grace, to grow this “gentle and quiet spirit” written about in 1 Peter 3:4. Quiet will enable me to listen to others better, to hear of their concerns. Quiet will help me think before I speak and to communicate better. And quiet might mean a few more blog posts in 2020, where I pray I can speak more to “proclaim the praises of Him who brought me out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
Do you have a word for 2020? I’d love to hear about it!