“They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” ~Isaiah 40:31 ESV
If you’ve been hanging around social media for the past few years, you probably have noticed a trend to choose a word each January. The idea is that this one word will guide you throughout the year, bringing focus to your goals and activities.
For the past several years, I participated in this one-word exercise. I began praying in late fall 2016 for God to give me a word to guide my steps in the year ahead. My word for 2017 was peace. God taught me more about peace, explicitly about finding the peace that only comes from him in difficult times, peace I had never imagined possible.
Something different happened this year. I got a clear message from God concerning my word for 2018: he made it apparent that he didn’t want me to choose one.
I was confused by this divine message. I relish setting and accomplishing goals. In 2017 I trained for and ran my first full marathon, simultaneously raising money for clean water projects. I implemented my fifth year of homeschooling. I maintain a blog and contribute to multiple other sites. I plan daily meals each month. I excel at goal setting. Why was God putting this roadblock in my planning path?
This might not be his message for anyone else, but it was his message for me. God is teaching me to listen during this season and not to talk, a challenging task for an extrovert. This is an exercise in trust. Instead of asking him for one word and then setting goals of my own making, God desires my daily reliance on him. In this season, I will wait to hear from God. Instead of asking him for one word to use as mortar between the bricks of my kingdom, I will sit at his feet to learn all his plans for my place in building his.
God doesn’t want a small part in crafting my life. He already has my best life planned. Ironically, in these months of knowing no word was on the horizon, I’ve heard more clearly and frequently from God than ever before. I needed only to get quiet and listen to the One whose words began the world.
In this age of immediate gratification and instant answers, what does it look like to wait patiently for the Lord? Are you trusting him with your life? Or are you treating him like someone along for the ride in the plans you make?
Father, I know I can trust you with all things. I need only be still and watch as you work in my life. Please give me the faith to sit with you daily, listen, and learn in this season. Keep my focus on building your kingdom and not mine. Amen.
Scriptures for Reflection
“Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14 NLT)
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5–6 ESV)
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. (Psalm 130:5 NIV)
Reach for More
The practice of centering prayer can be a great way to prepare our hearts and minds to hear from the Lord. Find a quiet, comfortable spot in your house at a time you are unlikely to be interrupted. Set a timer for a specific amount of time; I suggest five minutes. Begin by choosing a verse or attribute of God to focus on in your prayer time. Close your eyes and quiet your mind. If your thoughts start to wander, bring your focus back to the attribute or verse. Try this exercise this week and let us know what God teaches you using the hashtag #tgtreachformore.
Photograph © Gift Habeshaw, used with permission