(By Rachel Joyce)
The ending of a year and the beginning of a new one is a good time for reflection. For the past few years, instead of writing resolutions, I’ve chosen a word to focus on for the year; my word for 2020 was strong. And if there ever was a year we needed to be strong, that was it.
On December 6 of 2019, I wrote these words on my blog, "Christmas is fast approaching with the New Year right behind it. We don’t usually focus on the New Year until Christmas is over, but I’m writing about this for you to mull over and pray about for the next few weeks so that you’re ready when the ball drops and 2020 begins.”
As though any of us could have been ready for what hit us in 2020.
But what I was talking about was the practice of choosing a word to focus on for the year. Some find it helpful to choose one word rather than a list of resolutions. You can read more about this concept here: “My Word.”
My one word, the word the Lord impressed upon my heart for 2020, strong, came from the verse: “Be strong through the grace that God gives you in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 2:1). Little did I know in December how much I would need to draw from God’s strength during 2020.
This past year, I experienced that His grace is enough, even when a virus cripples the world. When masks are the law and we’re forced to breathe stale air, He breathes life into our lungs and strength into our bones. When our masks cause our glasses to continually fog over, we can still know that when we stand on His truth, can we see clearly to move forward.
And when we’re stuck within our own four walls because of lockdowns and quarantines, we discover true freedom and joy as we worship Him for who He is and thank Him for the blessings He has given us.
When grief floods our hearts like a mighty wave, He is there - holding us, comforting us, never letting us go. He calls us to cast all our sorrows and our fears upon Him (1 Pet. 5:7).
He is enough to meet all our needs. He is greater: greater than what we’ve suffered, greater than anything we might face, and greater than the surging sorrow which threatens to engulf us. When we ask in faith, His strength becomes ours and we are enabled to endure regardless of what we might have to face.
His presence gives us joy and peace, even when our circumstances are trying and our resources are depleted. Because He is our everything, we will not fear.
I’m thankful that He is the one who makes us strong. And I’m deeply grateful for how He has drawn me to Himself and taught me not to fear in 2020.
This was a year of hard things for me - valuing relationships enough to have those hard conversations, being brave enough to get the help I needed to overcome some difficult inner stuff, and learning to lean heavily on God’s strength to keep going, even when giving up felt so appealing.
I’m infinitely grateful for God’s grace, the ever-flowing supply meeting my needs and continually transforming me more and more into the image of my glorious Lord. It has been a year of resting on His truth: “The Lord is the strength of my life” (Ps. 27:1). “It pleases you to make us strong” (Ps. 89:17) And “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). He has. And He will.
Now we are facing 2021 and the word that God has put on my heart for this upcoming year is adore. He has called us to be worshippers, to love, and to adore Him. It is our highest calling and our greatest privilege.
Adoration is defined by dictionary.com as fervent and devoted love. To adore is to regard with the utmost esteem, love, and respect, to honor. This is what God deserves from us - our complete devotion, our fervent love and esteem. To adore Him means that He has captivated us - body, soul, and spirit - we are completely and utterly enthralled by Him.
In the BBC version of the movie, Pride and Prejudice, there’s a scene where Darcy watches Lizzy playing the piano and although he does not say a word about his love for her, his eyes give it away. As he looks at her, the devotion in his eyes reveals that he adores her. He cannot hide it.
Devotion is not devotion without feelings. So while we need to be resolved to serve Christ, to sacrifice for him, and to obey Him, we will not be devoted to Him unless our whole beings are completely engaged in loving Him, our feelings as well as our will.
So this year, I’m holding onto the words we sing every Christmas, “Oh come let us adore Him!”
How about you? How has God been working in your life this year? What has He been teaching you about Himself and what might He want you to focus on in 2021? Whatever word He may give you, I pray that you will find in Him the source of all you need as you face the new year.
God’s blessing be upon you.