It’s always been this way. A word shows up everywhere in my life for weeks on end, for what appears to be no reason at all. Podcasts, sermons at church, Pinterest, my Facebook newsfeed and Twitter stream. Recently, He’s gone so far as to make sure the word will show up in classroom lectures and cafeteria conversations.
I never know the meaning until I know I need the word – and then I need it. To teach me, to encourage me, to show me.
But the strangest part about the whole thing is that I never pick the word. Suddenly, it’s just everywhere. That’s why picking my OneWord for the year is a challenge. How can I know what the year will hold? Should I look at predicted events and choose a word that will help me through? But then, I can’t predict the future. I’m not sure how Jesus works in your life or if this is super common, but words tend to hang on for a season. When I hear rest I think of Fall 2012. The word open? Haiti, Spring Break, 2014.
Always, a word for each season. But I thought I’d give OneWord a shot, so…
In 2013 I chose beloved.
Be loved. Be love. Be the beloved.
But then the calendar flipped to 2014 and I grasped at straws. I’m a word-lover and I couldn’t choose. Eventually, February came and I landed on believe. It seemed like a good one, considering 2014 would mean beginning my final year of college and living out my very own miracle.
And it was a good word. It fit well and reminded me to believe His promises. But then summer hit and the darkness came. Believe took on a whole new meaning.
Believe there is light when all you can see is the dark.
Believe the Truths you know to be true when all you hear are lies.
Believe the promises.
Believe He will carry you through.
Believe there will be no more weeping or pain or sadness.
Believe Light has already come.
Believe there is space at the table for you.
Believe that believing is not a mistake.
I clung to the word that was just a passing thought in February. And I believed. All of it. Even when it didn’t make sense or add up, I chose to believe what I knew to be true in the light when everything just seemed dark.
Last Christmas season the word floating around my brain, printed in ink on all the book pages, playing on the radio no matter which station I turned to, was Emmanuel.
God with us.
God come down to us. God with us. God coming back for us.
I was fascinated by the word, by the God who would come for me, stay with me, and come for me once more. I knew this God-man but I wanted to know Him more, to know Him fiercely. Emmanuel, my word for the season. Emmanuel, God with me in every season.
Believe. Emmanuel. Believe.
In the busy, hectic pace of Christmas – God with us. Where do we make space in our schedules for the Savior who came as a baby to redeem a broken people? And how do we ask that question honestly, when the question itself makes us want to curl up in shame?
“Make space” for Jesus? The thought itself is absurd, that we would have to work at making space for the King of Kings. But take a quick look at my planner and it’s clear things are busy and life moves quickly by.
We have to make space in the pace. We have to add Emmanuel in, because without Him Christmas (and the whole year) is just a climbing of ladders and a bending of the back to reach one more rung and sow one more seed on a planet that was never meant to be our permanent home.
When we make a little space in our pace for Emmanuel, our pace becomes pEace.
Peace. In the pace.
God with us in the hurry, the hectic, the to-do list. While cooking dinner and going out with friends, God with us at the table. In the making and the wrapping, in the encouraging and the writing and the cleaning. Still, God with us.
Believe. Emmanuel. Believe.
God come to us – bElieve.
God with us in the every day, every day – beliEve.
God coming back for us – believE.
Oh, how He loves us. We can always believe because God is always coming for His beloved, always returning to us and loving us.
You are never too far gone, never too much or too little or not quite enough. You are not too lost or too hopeless. He came, He chose to call us His home, and He’s coming back because the love of God is always coming, always coming. . .
for the lost.
for the unsure.
for those in the dark.
for the confused, the sick, the hurting.
The red words [believe] written on a scrap piece of paper have sat in my room for months. I turned the keys to a dorm room in Birmingham last August and opened a package that had been there waiting. Inside were all of my words, my SeasonWords.
Each one from a time in my life, whether a week in Haiti or the fall of 2012 or a year-long lesson on being the beloved, all of them together. The words hang above me as I do my homework, write, chat with friends, and sleep. They remind me constantly that He is with me in all the seasons and in the right now. Emmanuel.
There is light now. There was light before – just a lot harder to see, I suppose.
I’ve been making a list the past few days. I sat down and thought about what this coming year might hold and what I want to keep on the forefront of my mind. I listened and waited, hoping to sense what word I should chose for 2015.
There were six options that seemed appropriate. Both encouraging and challenging. I think that they’ll each have a bit of a turn this year, but yesterday as I went about my daily life this one word came to mind and something inside said “that’s the one.”
I tried to fight it, if we’re being honest, because option #5 felt really promising.
But this word brought tears to my eyes as soon as I said it out loud.
Keep your eyes open, wait and watch – He will keep His promises. God will watch to see that His Word is fulfilled.
Watch Him provide all that is needed when you’re asked 1 million trillion times what you plan to do with your life after graduation. There are hundreds of questions but just watch for the Answer and follow It.
When you leave the place that has been your home for 4 years, when you steal one last look in the rearview, remember He is watching over you, over your coming and your going.
Remember to soak in every moment, every new thing and every last, and to count both sides as a gift. And when your voice shakes and your chin quivers and your arms refuse to let go, remember that while you are away God will keep watch over the ones who hold your heart.
And then watch Him blow your mind in all the big ways and the small, too. Watch for the daily joys and watch for the light in the struggles. Dwell in His Word, breathe deep of the Peace in the pace. Love deeply. Enjoy the journey. Be free of hurrying and release the worries.
Keep watch and believe.