“What’s your word for the year?” I have a number of friends who, instead of making New Year’s resolutions, faithfully choose one word to characterize their year. Perhaps the word is something true about them that they want to be reminded of, like “chosen” or “clean”. Maybe the word is an area they would like to grow in, such as “forgiveness” or “dependability”. As they go through the year they can see God do work in their lives in that specific area.
I’ve never done this.
I’m not against the idea. I believe it’s a worthy pursuit. I just have never had a word captivate me enough to want to focus on it for the whole year. It could be because I see so many areas of my life that require growth and attention that I can’t narrow it down to one. Or it could be that I know myself well enough to know that the thing that seems pressing in early January may be long forgotten by May. Regardless, I’ve never felt compelled to join in the exercise.
I was recently reading an article by Ann Voskamp that caught my attention. (It was reposted by my friend Pamela Haddix on her blog Worship and the Word which you should definitely check out!) Ann brilliantly presented a word that was so compelling that I am inclined to make it my word for the year.
- … it’s a word that captivates my attention like no other
- … it’s a word that reminds me who I am and where I stand in this world
- … it’s a word that brings attention to where my priorities are and where they should be
- … it’s a word that causes the chaos in my life to hush
- … it’s a word that commands attention where it is due
- … it’s a word that silences storms and moves mountains
- … it’s a word that makes demons tremble and sends them cowering
I’m not sure how I’ll do having a “word for the year”. But anything that will keep me coming back to the name of Jesus has got to be worth trying.
I’ve often heard people explain the concept of “abiding in Christ” using the illustration of a television plugged into an outlet. On its own, the TV has no source of power; no amount of self-effort will make it function. In order for it to work, the TV has to be plugged in. But as soon as the plug reaches the outlet, power is readily available. The TV instantly has what it needs to perform the function for which it was designed.
There is a lot of truth in that picture when we think about living the Christian life. When we try to fulfill the purposes for which we were created by relying on our own strength, we never succeed. We need to be “plugged in” to Christ, allowing Him to be our source of power.
But there’s a related phenomenon that I’ve often observed. When I had an old analog TV and I would turn it on, it took a little while to warm up. I remember seeing a horizontal flash of light and watching the dark gray screen as it got a little brighter, a little brighter, and then display a blurry picture. Eventually as I continued to watch the picture came into clearer focus. (A similar thing happens with digital TVs as well, but instead of a blurry picture we might get a black screen for awhile, or even a signal check that runs through all the channels trying to find which ones can be used.)
What would happen if, while the television was warming up, I unplugged it? I’d get the dark screen again. And if I then plugged it back in? It would start the process of warming up over again. And if I kept unplugging the set during the warm up time and plugging it back in after, I would get to a point where I would never actually see the picture, but just see the dark screen and maybe an occasional flash of light. The television is connected to the power source but doesn’t appear to be working because it takes some time for it to respond and bring the picture into focus.
Have you ever experienced a cycle like that? Sin – repent – sin – repent – plug in – unplug – plug in – unplug… and the struggle continues and the picture never seems to come into focus? It can be easy to think, “I kept turning to God every time I fell … but it didn’t work,” assuming that because we haven’t yet changed, His help must not be available. But the reality is that the power is there. When Jesus paid the price for our sins, it worked. Sometimes it just takes us awhile to respond to the power that is available to us.