Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, like a hammer shattering rocks? Jeremiah 23:29
Bring on the word because I’ve got some rocks in my life that need some shattering! I’ve got some rocks I’ve been toting around for too long and it’s time to give them to the Lord to shatter so I can climb over the rubble and move on!
Back in November I started thinking about what my “word” for 2015 would be. I started a list and each time a word would pop into my mind I’d write it down.
At the beginning of December I started praying over this list asking God to inspire the one I needed; the one that would draw me closer to him. I was so proud of my process and I really liked some of the words I had recorded.
My 2014 word was discipline and it was a tough one. God did some great things in my life through that word but being truly disciplined to his promptings landed me smack dab in the middle of some tough stuff over the last 12 months. It was abundantly clear on many occasions that he had way more confidence in my abilities than I did, but I lived my word with conviction!
I was hoping that as a reward for my faithfulness to that tricky word he would bless me with a sweet tender word like love, peace, joy, or happiness for 2015. Not so lucky! As it turns out, my new word didn’t even appear on the list. Looking back I realize it popped up in conversation with the middle lovelies and my own children several times but I didn’t dare put it on the list. I convinced myself that it was just a word that needed discussion for them…it wasn’t a word for me, for heaven’s sake! But you can guess how it ended…God is so bossy!
My word for 2015 is obedience. Nothin sweet and fluffy about that one…it’s hardcore. I did have to laugh when I realized there was no getting around that word because it comes with a history and kind of a “careful what you wish for” story.
As I mentioned earlier, the word had come up in conversation with the middle lovelies and my children several times this fall. I very distinctly remember saying one day, “it takes a lot of courage and faith to be truly obedient to God. That means being obedient to rules, laws and church teachings of all kinds, not just the ones that seemed beneficial and convenient.” We had several discussions about submitting, arguing, needing to be right, and humble acceptance.
I remember one fiery middle lovely who argued that complete obedience meant loosing independence and control. I smiled and said, “We’re not losing it, were giving it to God because he’s the one with the plan and the answers and the blessings…he just needs us to obediently follow.” Those words are coming back to haunt me right now!
As I was fighting with the reality of this word and what it would mean for my 2015 I came across a beautiful confirmation. The day after Christmas I was straightening a pile of books I’m half-done reading and a bookmark fell out. On it was a picture of Saint Pope John XXIII. His Papal motto was Obedentia et Pax. I read those words and just laughed out loud at God’s fingerprint on my heart even as I was being stubborn and whiney about this word. The words translate from Latin to English as Obedience and Peace.
The whole obedience thing worked out pretty well for Pope John the XXIII so I suppose I’m in good company. Disobedience is the greatest thief of peace we can know. I look at all the things I struggle with in my daily life, all those rocks that need to be shattered, and each of them contains an element of disobedience.
I struggle with doing it all: disobedience to his plan. I struggle with pride: disobedience to honoring him most. I struggle with judging and comparing: disobedience to seeing things through his eyes instead of my own. I struggle with my weight: disobedience to recognizing simple basic physical needs and his ability to meet them instead of indulging my greedy desires. I struggle with feeling overwhelmed: disobedience to his plan to save me instead of my plan to save the whole world because nobody else can! Oh my…could I go on and on!!!
I guess in a way he gave me a sweet word, peace…but it will come as the fruit of a hard word, obedience. I will just have to remind myself of that fruit many times as I live and grow as a disciple using my word for 2015. God willing I will be able to write one whopper of a post at the end of the year about all the ways obedience has changed me. One thing I’m certain of…he’s got a lot of work to do in me because I’m really gonna need help with this one. Come to think of it, that’s precisely the reason he gave me the word isn’t it?
What’s your word?
A Seed To Plant: Take some time to do some praying, thinking, and writing with your 2015 word. As you pray with your word, look forward to the end of the year and prayerfully ask God to show you what he wants to accomplish in you using this word he’s given you.
Copyright 2015, Sheri Wohlfert
Photography: Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, Pope John XXIII (1959), Files from the Patriarchate of Venezia (Venice), PD, Wikimedia Commons