Why My Word for 2020 Scares Me

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Here’s Why My Word for 2020 Scares Me

Every year I pick a word to focus on, one that represents something I feel the Lord is calling me to do or work on. That word has helped ground me and has become part of what I pray for myself daily. I usually even put it somewhere in my office to remind me of it.

Last year my word was, “overlook” as I sensed the Lord was calling me to overlook the slights and offenses of others and to focus on what they’d done right. The previous year, my phrase was “I agree” as I saw the power of finding commonality with people rather than differences. The year before my word was “available” as I wanted to be available to God and to others, open to what I’d previously considered interruptions.

No matter what word I’ve chosen in January, I’m usually disappointed by December. I want another year with the same word so that I can see real change. I want my word to reshape me. But at the same time, I feel God calling me not to focus on what I haven’t done but rather to look at the progress I’ve made. As Scott Sauls says, to effect genuine character transformation, “first we must reject the belief that a self-improvement plan or ‘resolution’ can produce lasting change.” Jesus changes us. When I am content to let the Lord change me by degrees over time rather than requiring instant results, I can be thankful for what the Lord has done in me, without condemnation.

So it’s with that understanding that I chose “willing” as my word for 2020. I want to be willing to do whatever God asks of me. That feels scary to me.

There are certain things that I’m completely willing to do for the Lord. I feel honored to walk alongside friends who are suffering. I welcome having deep conversations about what God is doing in my life and in others. I’m excited about reading the Bible and writing what he shows me in Scripture.

Yet I sense that God is asking me to willingly embrace both the tasks I’m drawn to and those that make me uneasy. Am I willing to be misunderstood? Am I willing to serve out of my weaknesses and not my strengths? Am I willing to be unappreciated? Am I willing to wait? Or to risk? To be humbled? To obey even when it’s the opposite of what I want?

As I’ve been pondering these questions, I’ve been drawn to the willingness of the saints in Scripture. Abraham was called by a God that he had not known before and told to go to a land that God would show him. (Genesis 12:1) Hebrews tells us, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place… and he went out, not knowing where he was going.” (Hebrews 11:8). Later he was asked to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, and he has willing to do even that.  (Genesis 22:1-14; Hebrews 11:17-19).

When Jesus called the disciples he simply said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). Immediately, they left everything – their nets, their livelihood and even their families – willing to answer the Lord’s call without question. They were leaving the security of the life they had known because they recognized this call was greater.

One of the most personally convicting examples for me was Mary, who when the angel Gabriel told her that she was going to have a child, said, “I am the servant of Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)

Could I say that? Mary’s willingness meant shame and disgrace and scandal. Her reputation was ruined. No one would understand this work of the Holy Spirit, so people would jump to their own conclusions and assume she’d been immoral. Mary was righteous, but her willingness to serve God meant she would look unrighteous.

Mary could have said to the angel, “Thank you for this honor, but I’m a virgin. Could we just wait till I’m married to Joseph for this to happen so no one will misunderstand me?”

Of course, if Jesus had been born to a married couple, Scripture would not have been fulfilled. It had to be this way. But Mary’s willingness came at great cost to her. Her humble response shows that her focus was not on herself, but rather on doing whatever God asked of her.

I’m willing to serve God, even do hard things for him, but the thought of doing things that will be misunderstood, that would put me in a bad light, makes me cringe. I care too much about what people think of me. I want to look holy more than I want to be holy. I value my reputation, what people think of me, more than I do obedience. That’s what the Pharisees did, and just like the Pharisees, I struggle with seeking the praise of men more than the praise of God (John 12:43).

That’s why I’m not on social media much. I over think everything and am too concerned about how I will come across. That concern is even further compounded as I am working on a memoir and have struggled with how to portray myself. I don’t want to include flattering anecdotes about myself and have people think I’m prideful and arrogant. Yet I don’t want to reveal negative things about myself and have people see me as selfish and critical. But the truth is, I am all those things.

In 2020, I want to listen to God and not be motivated by what others will think. First I must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, so I can discern his call. And when I do, I want to willingly go where he sends me and fully embrace what he gives me. When the Lord calls me to do something, I want to echo the prophet Isaiah words: “Here I am! Send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

This prayer from John Wesley beautifully reflects my own prayer:

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you,
Praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.

Suffering, set aside, and criticized all sound painful, but if I trust my Savior, I know he will only allow what is best for me. So in 2020, if the Lord calls me to any or all of those things, I pray I will be willing to receive them. Even if they scare me.

Do you have a word or phrase for 2020? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

source : https://www.vaneetha.com/journal/why-my-word-for-2020-scares-me

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