For the past several years, I have prayerfully selected a word (or words) to be intentionally about during the course of the upcoming year. Often, it is a word that isn’t something I would necessarily think to focus on—however, it is a word that relentlessly pops into my head and seems to be the point of messages I read or hear over and over.
I thought I would share the words that have surfaced for me during the past month as I have been in prayer and devotion- Hope. And Revival.
Before I get into what those two words mean to me, I want to talk about the two words that I was intentional about the past two years- yes, two years because God apparently didn’t think I got the hang of it during the first year. I say this in jest… and also because I know it is true.
The two words I was intentional about were Pause. And Slow Down.
Well, wouldn’t you know it, 2020 caused me to hit pause and slow down.
I am a Type A personality… and that means I am usually SO busy, I don’t know which end is up until I give in and admit that I cannot do everything on my own.
It’s humbling. And I’ve realized it is also prideful.
Once I became a mom in 2018, I also became determined- more so than regular- to continue to do everything I had been doing, plus take care of my growing family.
I’ll never forget one afternoon when my mom came over to watch Lyla, who was only a month old at the time, so I could go for a run.. I spent the entire run repeating self-talk in my head about how I CAN do it all. I WOULD do it all. And I would EXCEL while doing it.
This was a very personal run for me, I felt raw and vulnerable. I didn’t share any of that internal conversation I had during the run with my mom when I returned home. I didn’t tell her how pumped up I felt. How I felt ready to DO it all. In fact, when she reads this post, she will be learning of this along with all of you.
Well, wouldn’t you know, God was talking to my mom. Before she left that afternoon, she popped her head back inside my door, after she had already walked out of it and said… Nikki… you WON’T be able to do it all and you need to know that.
I was stunned. And to be honest, I was mad. I thought she was being so rude … and of course, I thought I would definitely show her how I could keep up with everything.
The truth is, I need the help and the grace of others. Most importantly, I need God. What is terrible is that God is very often the very last one I seek. My pride and my stubbornness and my sinful nature get in the way.
The truth is, when I rely on myself. I am hopeless.
And when I seek God and trust in HIM, I am hope- filled.
Our God is a BIG God. 2020 threw some BIG things on us.
Personally, I started the year very sick with GI issues. The pandemic hit. I was completely overwhelmed, juggling caring for my family full-time, with a full-time job. In September, I had an irregular mammogram, followed by a breast MRI. In November, my family of four came down with COVID-19 and unknowingly spread it to other family members and our nanny. And to round things out, early December I had a wisdom tooth removed and I am still recovering from a dry socket.
With all of these things that could bring me to my knees in uncertainty and fear, I became closer to God through prayer. Through my relationships with my moms group at church. Though the warm welcome of couples into a new church small group. Through my mentor from church. And through the Armor of God Study that I felt nudged to lead this summer with my moms group.
God has been sending me life-lines throughout this entire year. He has been reminding who is in control—when I definitely am not. And He has been reminding just how BIG He is.
That is why, my word for 2021 is Hope. And I can start the New Year… even amongst all the uncertainty that is still looming… with the greatest Hope, that I can only find through Him.
On January 1, 2021 – the challenges of 2020 will not magically go away. We will still be wearing masks and there will still be virtual meetings and everyone working from home for a while longer. Health issues will still come up. As well as other issues that are outside of our control.
However… I am hope-filled because I know our God is at work and will use these challenges for bigger and better things beyond our imaginations. It’s his promise to us in Ephesians 3:20:
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
And there’s more. Remember how I said the words I am intentional about seem to surface to me through repeated messages and passages I come across. Hope has been a running theme.
Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. This. This is where hope comes from. The Holy Spirit who helps us.”
And later in Acts 13:52: “And the believers were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit. Believers are marked by joy because of the Holy Spirit working in us.”
Now, this is where I get to my second word for 2021. Revival. We have a BIG God. One that can do more than we can ever imagine to ask or dream of. So, why not go BIG in my asks and my walk with Christ this year.
I love the cross reference from those passages in Acts to this one in 1 Thessalonians 1:6:
“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord when you welcomed the message with the joy of the Holy Spirit, in spite of your great suffering.”
Imitators of the Lord simply means spreading the love of Christ with others, loving others, seeking community and UNITY with others. God can do that.
Recently, our pastor has been challenging us to think about how to be big and bold this year. For me, it’s praying for a revival. I look at the world and I feel sad, helpless and hopeless.
John 17 is a really beautiful chapter of the Bible that I haven’t spent nearly as much time studying as I would like to. This is the chapter where Jesus prays for the disciples and for future believers—you guys- that means US! How incredible is that? As He was on the cross, He was praying for us and for the hardships He knew we would face and that we would have faith big enough to continue to follow Christ.
So… there IS one thing I can do. I can pray. I can have confidence to ask God for the BIG things. To turn people to Him. To use this pandemic for HIS glory. To turn the division into unity.
And that brings me peace and joy.
And it’s my hope that you can find peace and hope in the new year too.
A heart of thankfulness has reframed everything for me in 2020.