(By Rachel Joyce)
Have you chosen a word to keep you focused this coming year?
A few years ago, I became aware of what Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen call “My One Word.” They suggest that instead of making a long list of New Year’s resolutions, you choose one word to keep focused on throughout the year. You can read more about it here. I’ve tried it and it works. I love it!
Near the close of each year, after much prayer and waiting on God, I choose my “word of the year.”
Last year, my word was light. It’s the meaning of my precious little granddaughter’s name, and after the darkness and difficulty of 2020–22, I needed light.
This year has not been easy. It began with me out of commission with a torn gastrocnemius that took months to heal; the awkwardness of getting around without putting weight on the delightfully stylish boot then caused my back to flare up. And we found out my dad’s cancer had returned. Then in August, we experienced the joy and sadness of empty nesting as our youngest moved to another country to further her education.
But through these and other ups and downs, Jesus was with me, breathing strength into me, comforting me. As He shone the light of His truth on my pathway, He held my hand every step of the way. And I am so grateful.
As the year has been drawing to a close, I’ve been praying for God to show me the word He has for me for 2024.
An older friend of mine has experienced personal tragedy this year and she wanted me to take her to a counselor who has been an incredible blessing to me. I sat quietly in the corner taking notes for her as she poured out her sorrow and listened to the godly advice. His words were comforting and convicting. They ministered to my heart, as well.
He said, “God has a work for you to do. He has made you to be a light and you need to shine for Him.”
God used those words to illuminate truth for me: light is who we are. It’s our identity. Shining is what we do by faith.
But it can be hard for a Christian woman to think of shining as what she needs to do. It may feel safer to choose words like stillness or service or humility.
And so the next day when I was walking, as I thought and continued to pray over this, I argued a bit with God…well, not really argued as much as questioned.
Did I hear right? Is this really what You want? Perhaps, since last year’s word was light, I’m just making these connections in my own mind.
So I asked Him. Lord, I really need to know: is this truly from You? I’m a little afraid of this word. I think “be still” might be better, but if You are calling me to shine forth Your glory this year, then I will, but I need You to show me clearly.
The words were barely out of my mouth when, as I turned to walk onto our street, I received my answer. Although it had been a dull day, at that moment, the sun illuminated the sky with streaming rays, its brightness piercing through the clouds and outlining them in brilliant light.
“Yes, Lord,” I bowed, “I will shine for You this year.”