I’ve heard it and I know you’ve heard it. “Turnabout is fair play. What goes around comes around.” I’m not saying there’s any connection, of course, but … well … let me know what you think. I have a severe case of laryngitis and have no explanation except possibly this one. For the past two weeks I’ve been using scripture from advent readings I received from a friend at church. Somehow, and I’m not sure how I would do this, but I got a few of the days mixed up and wrote about Zechariah and his 9 month forced code of silence two days in a row. Luke 1:20 “And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.” When I looked at my notes last night I realized that if I was at the right place on the prescribed schedule I would again be writing about Zechariah’s inability to speak. Believe me, after just two days of not being able to speak, I have acute empathy for people who cannot speak. But we are not going there again. Let’s talk about something else entirely. Lets’ talk about hope.
When I was working for a corporation, annual planning and forecasting for the New Year was finalized in August of the current year. That’s not how it works for individuals and families, at least not most of the time. We might plan vacations more than a year in advance, but it’s November or December when we start thinking about what we want to accomplish once the page of the new calendar displays January. How often do you hear a conversation that starts out “After the first of the year …”? What happens after the first of the year? What do we hope will happen? According to USA.gov, the top ranking New Year’s Resolutions are no surprise: Lose Weight, Get a better job, Get Fit, Quit Smoking, Get a better education. There are others, but do any of those look familiar?
Before you are tempted to tar and feather me, let me qualify that there is nothing wrong with New Year’s Resolutions. My ideas, I realize, make no logical sense to the majority of people. In fact, sometimes they make no sense to me either. How many times have I asked myself, “Jane, what were you thinking?” and the answer returns, “I wasn’t!” I have been thinking about the coming year though and have decided that for the third year in a row I’m going to choose a word to live by. Year one (2013) was Integrity, year two (2014) Discernment, and 2015 is – is – is yet to be determined. Making New Years’ resolutions never worked for me. It was a pathway to self-inflicted heartache. Instead of a bunch of resolutions I choose one goal based on Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” I’m far from perfect at being a light, but that is my prayer every morning. “Lord whatever I do today, let me be a light for you, not a burned out stub.”
There’s a hashtag #word365 popular on social media, where people post what their word for the year is. My word, discernment, is there but where that word is most effective is when I pray about it often many times a day. Deciding is complicated when faced with a dilemma, but discernment isn’t put in a closet until problems come up. Discernment is as simple as choosing my attitude. “Will I be bitter or will I be better?” Discernment is present even when I don’t acknowledge it. “What will I do this moment to choose the right reaction?”
Choosing one word out of thousands is difficult and nothing says I have to choose one. It’s one way to focus on what I can do to live the way God wants me to live.
I’ve been thinking about the word hope for this year. I have 16 days, if I make the choice before 2015, but what if I don’t? My hope is not in the calendar. My hope is in God, like these verses in Lamentations 3:21-26 “Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”
Tomorrow I’ll be back on track with the advent readings. Today, I hope your day is filled with the wonders of this season and that as you plan for 2015, you make God your first priority because He will make all things fall into place when we place our heart, faith, and hope in him. Psalm 20:4 May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.