I adore words and am mesmerized by their power to bring life into our lives the way just the right amount of salt enhances the flavor of all it touches. I think of Jesus, described as Word Living and Active, and how His words guide our lives though He never actually wrote anything, save for doodles in the dirt as He spoke love into the very heart of a woman cowering on the ground, her accusers hellbent on destroying her life – and His. While I love to put pen to paper, it’s the living words of our days that I’m finding myself falling more and more in love with as time goes on. Stories emerge that say not only who you and I are, but who we’re destined to be. Holy words mingling with our limited vocabulary, divine words healing and nurturing and sustaining us.
This is the seventh year I have waited for a word that will become the sounding board and syllabus for the days to come. If I were to be completely truthful, I had considered stepping onto the path of 2019 without searching for a word in that limited vocabulary of ours. My quiet prayer has been to simply savor the words as they come, to carve out space to let words be a worshipful response, to find the joy in writing even when the writing feels more like duty and less like delight.
And yet. I use that phrase often in recounting God’s love of redemption in our stories. And yet. We were afraid, and yet. All hope was gone, and yet. Nothing made sense, and yet. And this story—the story of a simple word of the year—is God’s “and yet.” I hadn’t intended on having a theme, and yet God had written one down on the days to come.
The word means many things. Fixed. Dependable. Unwavering. Established. Immovable. Those definitions are beautiful. The less-used definitions are breathtaking.
Secure in position.
Loyal support that will endure strain.
To remain close.
To lean in and support.
Honest and true.
Six years ago, my word was willing. It was followed by redeem, soar, bold, and jubilee. Last year I focused on three qualities I had learned from women around the world who have changed my life for the better by teaching me what it means to be fully human uniquely shaped and designed by God Himself to craft and shape the design of the world around me.
I was willing to say “yes” to whatever God saw within me as He redeemed time and life and story. I took a leap from all that was comfortable and secure, and He taught me the beauty and frailty of soaring. I learned to yield fear and He taught me the tenderness of courage. I discovered that Jubilee, or celebration, isn’t a thing to be manufactured or contrived – but a lifestyle to be lived. And through the living stories of others, He transformed my story. None of it has been perfect. But He has perfected it. That’s His joy.
God has been steadfast through it all.
And because He is steadfast, I can be steadfast. Because He leans in and supports, I can lean in and be held. Because He is strong enough to endure the strain, I gain strength. Because He is faithful, I can persist. Because He remains close, I am never alone. Because He is honest and true, I find grit and grace and hope.
It’s 2019, and I am doing nothing new. No, instead I am embracing all that the Lord has done thus far to reveal His steadfast story in this story that changes stories. This is the year to find joy in the complex simplicity of that thought. There will be goals, there will be dreams, there will be big adventures and a few failures. And yet, it will be glorious. Ephesians 2:10 says, “ God planned for us to do good things and to live as He has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.”
Steadfast, welcome to the story. I’m glad you’re here.
How enduring is God’s loyal love;
the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion.
Here they are, every morning, new!
Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day.
I’m closing with a Franciscan blessing. No matter what our words are this year, I pray this becomes woven into our days.
May God bless you with a restless discomfort
about easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness
to believe that you really can make a difference in this world,
so that you are able, with God’s grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
What is your word for the year? And how may I pray for you right now—what are your goals, your dreams, your plans? What is standing in the way of you seeing God’s steadfastness? Let me know here, or send a message my way. We’re in this together, and I am for you.