For the past few years, I jumped on the “One Word” bandwagon and chose a word for the year. And the posts began a month ago with prompts to pick a word. To set goals and determine what the year 2019 will be all about.
But this year, that felt like pressure. It felt like I was putting pressure on the year. And since I know at least two major events coming up for our family in 2019, I have a strong urge to run away from anything that feels like pressure.
My expectations had to change.
As I’ve been processing the loss of my mom, I’ve learned I truly need to hold things with open hands. 2018 taught me that my plans are most definitely not the be all and end all of what will happen to my life. Expectations were obliterated in major ways. I had to set aside hopes and dreams and plans in order to follow what God was leading me toward.
I’ve opened my hands and given my plans to God. I see this particularly in our choice (and God-given ability) to send Sarabeth to school. When Eric and I were dating, the declaration I made over and over again was that we would be homeschooling Sarabeth. It felt like a daunting task, but it also felt like a calling. With that in mind – I purchased toys knowing they would hold dual purpose for school and play. I looking for things on sale that would help us in “schooling” in the future. I held incredibly tightly to my plan to homeschool.
God had other plans
When we moved this fall, we were fortunate enough to move to a very good school district. And the conversation shifted some. Would we send Sarabeth to school in this district? How would our plans change? What did I want the next few years to look like?
In the midst of asking those questions, another need arose. Sarabeth needed friends. We moved her an hour away from the girls she knew so well she calls them her “sisters.” A very real need arose to help her plug in to find some friends and feel like she belongs again. It just so happened our new church home also housed a preschool that had one solitary opening in her 3-year-old classroom. In the way God moves, he provided the finances for us to put Sarabeth in school, a space for her with kids she had met in Sunday School and an angel of a teacher. Sarabeth has been making friends and is most certainly thriving in her new environment.
What I couldn’t see, God definitely knew as he moved us, prompted us to begin asking questions of our plan, and placed us in a church that would feed our souls. All the questions we didn’t know we had were answered when we opened our hands to God’s leading.
I’ve found freedom in giving God the space to move in and through our lives.
And so, this year, I won’t pick a word. I don’t want to put my plans on top of what God wants for us. I want to hold things loosely, looking for where God is moving.
The question asked was “who do you say that God is?”
It’s a question I’m intimately familiar with right now as I wrestle with all that transpired in 2018, and what I know is coming for us in the new year. I question God’s goodness in all the chaos and change. What the purpose for the pain and suffering possibly could be.
And I’ll continue to wrestle with those questions into 2019. I know the questions aren’t over. And more will pop up as the year comes.
But what we were reminded of on Sunday as we examined Matthew 16:13-26 was that our plans are not God’s plans. In one paragraph, Peter was declaring what was told to him by God himself: Jesus, you are the Christ, the living God. The very next paragraph, Peter was rebuking Jesus as he explained that he would be killed and then raised to life in 3 days.
Despite who Peter knew Jesus to be, Peter still wanted his plans for God.
Peter did not want to lose Jesus. He did not understand the greater plan that was at play. Without Jesus’ death on a cross – there would not be salvation for all people. Jesus was inviting the disciples into a greater story. But they didn’t understand. And Jesus rebuked Peter for not trusting the plan with the words, “Get behind me Satan!”
Peter’s agenda for the future changed from looking solely at God to being self-focused. Peter wanted his plans and his plans alone.
For me, choosing a word this year feels a bit like I would be acting like Peter.
I want to learn to be present with God. To embrace the woman He’s created me to be. And I want to live out his purposes for my life. And for me, if I place a word or goal on the year, I’m declaring what I believe is good for me.
But 2018 taught me that ultimately, I don’t wholly know what is for my good. I need God to show me what is best for my life.
And so, with open hands and an open heart, I’m handing my life to God this year. To do with it was is best for His glory. His plan. His purposes. I want my identity to be matched with Christ. And to that end, I must lay down my life and my plans.
I want my identity to be matched with Christ. And to that end, I must lay down my life and my plans.