Resolutions aren’t really my thing. And I’ve noticed a trend in the last four or five years where many people I know move away from “resolutions” and focus more on attainable goals or milestones they want to work toward.
I’ve also seen many friends adopt the one word for the year challenge. This seems to grow exponentially every year, and I confess, I love reading what people are going to focus on for the year with one word. Or how they’re going to challenge themselves, change their lives, or just one part of them through the power of a word.
To be honest, this isn’t really my thing either.
It’s only the second time in my life that I’ve chosen a word as a theme for the upcoming year. I had a word for 2015. I knew without a doubt the word the Lord put on my heart was hope. It’s a simple word. A word with seeming lightness and yet dripping with anticipation. Little did I know that 2015 would be a year that changed my life. It was the year I quit my job. Started a business. Watched my sister get married. Traveled across the country for clients (7 times in 4 months = exhaustion).
In each situation, with each new experience, hope was the flame that kept me going. I learned that hope is warm and comforting. But it is also the knot at the end of the rope I find myself swinging from. It is the last thing I cling to and the substance of my faith.
I didn’t get a word for 2016 and I wasn’t looking for one. I was too busy trying to figure out my life and where I was going & walking through to really think much about the changing of one year to the next.
This year is different. I had a lot of time to think about things at the end of this year. I spent New Year’s Eve alone, doing my laundry, cleaning my house, and reading books. It was incredible. But as I sat and contemplated the past 12 months and looked forward to the next 12, a word was whispered across my heart and wrapped itself around my soul.
At first, I thought surely this could not be the Lord. Fear? How could I make a word with so much, well, FEAR in it, be my word for 2017? But the longer I thought about it, the more it became apparent why fear was my word for this year.
There are two sides to fear I will be tackling this year:
- Solomon says in Proverbs 9 that, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” I want to learn more about what it really means to fear the Lord. What does reverent awe offered to Jesus look like in my life? If the Word says that this kind of fear is the beginning of Godly wisdom, then I want it in my life.
- God commands us not to fear quite a bit in Scripture. Jesus says it to His disciples as well. As I examine my life in light of the word fear, I want to root out the secret areas where I am not obeying the command to, “Fear not.” I want to cut away the fear of being wrong. Of making mistakes. Of people’s faces and opinions in light of doing what’s true and right. I don’t want to be afraid of what following Jesus might cost me. I want this kind of fear to be exposed and repented of in my life.
Fear isn’t the most glamorous word. It doesn’t evoke fuzzy feelings and high aspirations. It’s a big word. Fear can be heavy. It is something that lurks around the corners of every life. But it can also be something that puts things in the right perspective if it’s the right kind of fear. The reverent kind of awe that caused Isaiah to say, “Woe unto me. I am a man of unclean lips!” That’s the kind of fear I want in my life.
But, like hope, I know that tackling fear, seeking it out and dealing with it in my life will make this year rich and profound. It will also, hopefully, by the grace of God and my obedience, make this year one of overcoming.