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Monday, December 29, 2008

What's in a Word?

For a few years now I’ve joined my dear friend and writing mentor, Mary Griffith, seeking the Lord for a word that summarizes what He has in store for the coming year. It’s become an exercise of prayer and faith.

And like all exercises, I sometimes would rather do anything but the work. I like the results... but the work? Not so much.

But God keeps bringing me back to this tradition every December, and I start reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the new one. Then I start talking to Him about what He wants to do in me during the next year.

Often, one word or a group of words stands out.

As has been par for the course, the word or words God brings to mind define an area He presses on during the year.

Instead of this word boxing God in to only one thing, each year the word He gives focuses my prayers and sharpens my spiritual sight to pay attention to where He's at work.

Before I share a word that surprised me for 2009, travel back with me a few years and trace the scarlet thread of God's grace...

In 2006 I looked forward to the word God whispered to my spirit~ ENJOY.

But I learned early in 2006, ENJOY didn't mean live it up and party. For twelve long months it meant learning to ENJOY God when there was little in life that would traditionally lead to experiencing joy.

Years later, I can look back at that painful flip of calendar pages and what stands out is that God was there, holding me when I couldn't stand and strengthening me as I bowed to His will being done and not mine.

The word for 2007 was REST. And let me tell you, God had a lot to teach me about how wrong my ideas on rest really were.

2007 was another challenging year, one full of hard fought battles, tear filled circumstances and quiet times of refreshing. God was there in the midst of every moment.

And now I see that without the painful times of both 2006 and 2007, I wouldn't have had eyes to see His rescue or the work He did in my heart. Nor would I have been ready for what 2008 had in store.

Last year’s word was EXPECTANT HOPE, and a verse God brought to mind was in Psalm 52. Verse nine says, “I will praise you forever for what you have done; in your name I will hope, for your name is good. I will praise you in the presence of your saints.”

Beyond the other words God has given me, this phrase was the hardest. I’ve spent most of my life afraid to hope. Afraid to live in a state of expectancy because all too often my hopes were dashed on harsh reality.

But along with these two powerful words came a reminder: My HOPE is in God. My EXPECTANCY is toward Him.

This lesson is one in which I'm still a gangly teen, taking a few steps forward in confidence and a few more awkward stumbles backward. But as in all years past, God is there.

And now for 2009...

The word that stands out for 2009 is PEACE.

Given the times, I sort of hiccupped when I sensed this was the word for 2009. Really, God? Am I hearing You right?

But then when I recounted a few big reasons to be unsettled next year—situations where fear would be a natural response—this word fit.

Here’s the short list:

This is the first time since I started writing that I have no signed contract.

My husband plans to start grad school and we’re still trying to dig out from under some large medical debts incurred in 2008.

The economy is bad.

We’re praying about changes in our school situation.

But instead letting my mind walk the trail of fear, God whispered a word that echoes through time. PEACE.

In John 14:27, Jesus says, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

Again, in John 16:33 Jesus says, "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Because we know Who holds every breath we'll take in 2009 and every circumstance we'll live through, we can have peace in Him. His peace.

I pray as we head into 2009, that you’ll join me in looking back to see what God has done. And then look ahead to what 2009 holds.

May you step into the future wrapped in His love and resting in His peace. No matter what’s ahead, God is already there. And your heavenly Daddy is holding you every step of the way.

Happy New Year!

8 comments:

upwords said...

Amy, what a beautiful and encouraging post. Peace indeed! Thanks for sharing!

Danica/Dream said...

Wow, thank you for sharing. So glad Marilynn tweeted this. I'm going to have to pray long and hard about my word.

Wanza Leftwich, The Gospel Writer said...

Amy,

I too have started my word for the year because of Mary's encouragment. This year: Authentic Decisions!

May God's peace embrace every part of you.

Many blessings to you!

Sally said...

Amy, I really felt the need to let you know how much your personal blogs encourage me! I love your book recommendations but the glimpses into your heart really touch me. God gave me my word today and I thought of you...I'm not sure I "like" my word...it is CONTENTMENT...although if the Lord acheives this in me (not because He is unable but because I am eternally stubborn!) I will be a much improved person!!

Give squeezes to the princesses from me!!!

Amy Wallace said...

Thank you, Mary, for tuning so many of us into the Lord and looking ahead to what the new year holds. What a gift you've given!

Keep praying, Danica! Thanks so much for your encouragement.

Great word, Wanza! Thank you for the beautiful words of blessing!

Amy Wallace said...

Sally,

What a heart chocolate gift you've given with your encouragement about this blog. Thank you!

I totally get it with not exactly liking the word God gives. But what a great perspective to know He is going to work in you and you'll be better for it.

Your word and mine go hand in hand. Let's pray and remind each other to keep looking to the Lord to achieve His word in us.

SanDe said...

Had to comment cus this is just what I posted:
http://hizbabe.blogspot.com/2009/01/knockin-but-rolling.html

We must have the same Pappa [grin]

Sandra

Amy Wallace said...

We totally have the same Daddy, Sandra! Great post on your blog too.

 
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