Not the word I wanted when I started praying and seeking God for my “word for the year.”
For the last few years our pastor has encouraged us to pray through December and January and seek a word the Lord was laying on our heart that would be our focus for that year.
My first year was Life. I was struggling with an unseen health issue and felt I was dying. Literally and truly. As I claimed the word Life for that year and sought to walk in faith, the Lord brought me to a healing answer in April, and I spent the rest of the year building strength and fully living again.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Then there was my word Grace. Specifically the Lord impressed upon my heart that I was to show grace to my husband! That may not sound hard, but I must confess I was more eager to show grace to strangers than to my husband. He was a Christian, he knew me, he was committed to me,… I held him to a standard no human being could meet. I was unjust, unkind, and completely lacking in grace toward him that January. But throughout that year of God working grace in my heart, and me intentionally seeking to show grace to my husband, our life has taken a sweet turn. Grace offers sweetness to those around us. In this tough world we each need all the grace we can get.
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
So here I sit this year looking at a hateful word. But it’s my word. Surrender. I know it’s my word. I knew it before 2017 struck midnight for the last time. And the Lord has reconfirmed it several times. Most unmistakably through my devotional reading for the year. As I read My Utmost for His Highest on January 1st, in the last sentence of the day, my dear friend Oswald said, “…surrender your will to Jesus absolutely and irrevocably.” Then today, once again, God spoke directly to me through Mr. Chambers on this last day of the first month. “God cannot deliver me while my interest is merely in my own character. Paul [the apostle] was not conscious of himself. He was recklessly abandoned, totally surrendered, and separated by God for one purpose – to proclaim the gospel of God.”
For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people, those of my own race. Romans 9:3
Am I willing? Willing to surrender? To surrender myself, surrender my will, surrender my image, surrender my inclusion in Christ if that’s what it takes for the redemption of another? I must truthfully say, No. Not at this point. The Lord is beginning this work of surrender in me. But I’m not a completed pot of clay in His hand. I’m the lump being molded and shaped upon the Potter’s wheel, and squashed down and built up again until I reach the shape of surrender. What is the shape of surrender, I wonder? Is it flat? Prone? Facedown?
I have a feeling it will be a hard year but a good one. It is always hard for us when we have to die to self. To surrender self. To lay self on the altar to be burned up in sacrifice. I’m like the ram caught in the thicket that was sacrificed in the place of Isaac. I don’t by nature willingly or eagerly surrender; God has to catch me in the branches to prepare me to die to myself. I imagine I’m not alone. I assume this is the human, fleshly reaction. But the apostle Paul had been so transformed into the image of Christ that His reaction was not the fleshly one. His specific statement from his heart was:
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21.
That is surrender. Will I reach that point of surrender? Will you?
Find your word from the Lord for this year, be it a single word or verse. Seek the point of focus God has for you this year.
Make it your aim to allow Him to work it out in you this year and to live it out at every opportunity. Lay yourself out before the Father daily as you hear from Him in His word. Allow His shaping process in your life.