You see it all over the internet these days: “My One Word …” and maybe it inspires you or maybe it intimidates you or just plain overwhelms you. Maybe the new year came in like a breath of fresh air when the windows open and promise sweeps through the room. Or maybe the year started with unfinished business and piles of wishes and hopes unfulfilled and thoughts of what could have been and wasn’t and still isn’t. Maybe, like a friend of mine, you were blindsided with betrayal and this new year promises newness, yes, but not the kind you ever wanted to have to live through and you just want to pull up the covers, but when you do you are haunted with thoughts that you can’t bury and can’t run from.
For me, this year is coming in with promise, but also with some serious considerations. I want to be purposeful and not pressured. I want to make a difference this year and most of all I want to live from a place of connection and meaning.
Every year for sixteen years (this will be the 17th) I have prayed for God to give me a verse at the end of December. This verse, this gift, is for the coming year. I ask Him to clue me into what He is brewing in my soul and to use a verse to point me into alignment with His purposes in my walk with Him. I don’t make resolutions anymore. Resolutions aren’t bad per se. I think resolutions (having the quality firmness or determination) are helpful in many ways. I think it is good to set our feet on a path, to intend to walk forward and to do so with determination. The problem I face, or at least have faced is that, as my grandma used to say, “My eyes are bigger than my stomach.” We used to go out to eat and I would want to order this big portion of something that looked so yummy and I remember her saying, “My dear, your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” I wanted it, but I just couldn’t handle all that I thought I could. Resolutions are like that. I often bite off more than I can chew and end up abandoning them before the month of January comes to a close.
But, one verse — a direction, a vision — points to something different. I can wrap my brain around this vision like a sailor foresees his port of destination. I can set my sails, pull my anchor, direct my tiller and aim for what God shows me in a verse. Years after I started embracing one verse, I started seeing these “One Word” posts around the net. I started asking God to match my verse with a word. That word can serve as my North pointing me towards God’s goal for me.
This year I sense, more than ever an invitation and a dare. I am invited by God to Draw Near. My word is two words — Draw Near. He has invited me to know that nothing good comes from my life apart from Him: without Him I can do no good thing. So, I intend to draw near. I need to draw near. I need the inner life to be richer than the outer. I need to make Him my center and to live with Him and then walk with Him. Several years ago He drew me towards John 15 as a means to ask me to focus upon abiding and my word was Abide. This year He said, “Draw Near.” I had many verses flash up in my mind as I prayed and sought Him and finally I feel He and I settled down in the verse in Hebrews 10: 22-23:
Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
I am asking Him to help me draw near. I say this is an invitation because I feel the calling to make my intentional devotional time with Him the most central and vital and consistent part of my day and life. I feel the invitation to draw near and remain close throughout my daily activities. I also feel the invitation to draw near and experience the love He has for me and just to find my rest and peace in His presence.
Yes, this is an invitation. Yet, I sense this is a dare as well. I feel the hesitance in my heart which comes from even more and deeper residue from my past. When I drew near to others in my past, there were deep harms and there was abandonment and rejection or people expected too much from me. God is asking me to risk, yet again, and even more than ever to draw near and know His love. I need to know anew that He is not like these who have sinned. Safety comes in the drawing near. I must risk and feel old pain as I do. If I won’t walk through the grief and fear, I won’t get near enough. If I keep God at a “safe” distance and instead of being won by Him — belonging to Him — if I remain safely at a distance, I will remain dull. The Spanish proverb says it: “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” A time comes to leap and I am reminding myself that He who calls to me is going to catch me again and again. Keeping Him at bay means keeping Him at bay. If I want to be wooed, to be had, to be drawn in, I must come near enough to be touched.
I must risk.
Drawing near holds promise because HE is the promise. God is always healing — always revisiting the burnt places — always reclaiming, restoring and resurrecting. I know as I draw near, I am entering into new and deeper things. God is good and He has great things at hand. As I draw near I will be changed and I will be challenged. Part of that potential thrills me and part of it scares me. So, with all that this year may hold, I draw near. I am drawn near and I am drawing near. And, through Scripture and His Spirit, He promises that as I draw near to Him, He will draw near to me.
I would love to hear what you are doing to set your sails for this new year. Where is God prompting you and what is your word, your verse or your resolve?