Revelation 12:11, John 10:27, Jeremiah 1:7, Psalm 111:7
Since 2003, Merriam-Webster Dictionary has published a 10-word list based on the number of searches on their website. The word choices usually follow political chaos, cultural influence and media changes. Some words are familiar at the time and some are not even in the dictionary when they become commonly used. It is amusing to look at the top words since 2003!
2012: Socialism and Capitalism
2015: who knows??
The Oxford dictionary people have their own list! In 2013 it was selfie and in 2014, their word of the year was vape. In keeping with the times, this year, their word is not even a word. It is the emoji for “face with tears of joy!” These lists show signs of the times, don’t they? They also show different perspectives of people who are looking at the same information ... and where they search for their answers.
We face the same issue every single day, donʼt we? What are the signs of our times? Will we view this world and the political climate from a Biblical perspective or a secular perspective? Will we look to the the Bible for answers to our personal chaos and circumstances? Several years ago, the Lord showed me a verse in Revelation 12:11 that spoke deeply to me.
“They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony, they did not love their own lives so much as to shrink from death.”
A few weeks earlier a friend shared with me that she had chosen “a word” for the coming year and I was intrigued by the thought. I was growing in my study of the the scriptures, learning to pray differently and wanted a deeper love relationship with the Lord. So, praying Godʼs Word as our friend Beth Moore has so eloquently taught us to do ... I asked the Lord to give me a word that would build my testimony for the next year.
And as our God is ALWAYS FAITHFUL to answer, He not only gave me a word, but a verse and this 7 year tradition for me was born.
Some years I have shared the practice with my students, sometimes a few of my dearest friends, exchanging index cards with words and phrases and prayer requests, culminating with breakfast in December and sharing what we have learned and how God had answered our prayers. The past two years, itʼs been an intimate activity between myself and a prayer partner. Without fail, our “Words of the Year” have been centered around the chaos and activity that life would bring during the coming year. Words like JOY or COMMUNION often brought a sense of anticipation for what was coming, and words like EMPTY and BROKEN have given my heart pause and it has required an active decision to submit to what the Holy Spirit had prompted.
Somehow, every word the Lord whispered delivered an event that stretched my testimony in ways that were beautifully painful.
The year of “broken” included a difficult season in my marriage and I was forced to allow God to mend broken places that were hindering my relationship with my husband, resulting in a closer relationship for the two of us. The year of “joy” brought a division in a friendship that caused the breath to go out of my lungs, but when I finally exhaled He filled me with prayers that I had never prayed because I had forever been too quick to turn to my friend and not cry out to Jesus. It also freed a space in my heart for a year of the confession that would require a new friendship. “Empty” was a season of my son going away to college, my job being eliminated, my friendships all changed in difficult, lonely ways and my very purpose for taking up space and oxygen coming into question. I was stifled by the fact that at the end of that year, there was no clear “lesson” or closure. It was by far the most difficult season of my life that would be followed by “Communion” in which He taught me the difference between filling lines on my calendar and allowing Him to fill moments with Divine Appointments. It would be during my year of Communion that would see the word Empty really doing itʼs work in me, as I took my hands off of something precious only to have the Lord return it to me in a sacred moment of communion where the blood and brokenness of Christ became more real than at any time I have taken a literal Communion in my life.
In a nutshell, my Words of the Year are the stakes in the ground moments of spiritual growth for me. This year, the Lord began to talk to me about my word for next year in October, before I even asked. I had a moment when I became keenly aware of someone close to me and how their worship had changed over the course of several months. I was struck by the heaviness she seemed to be carrying into her worship that only a few months earlier had been characterized by joy and uninterrupted intimacy between her and Jesus. As I prayed, listened to prayer requests and conversations the Lord showed me how life gets in the way of worship. Through several sermons, conference “tidbits” the Lord allowed me to overhear and the personal testimony of a precious young friend who had recently returned from a 4-month mission trip/intercessory prayer moment, again, the Lord confirmed that, indeed, He has chosen the word “worship” as my 2016 Word of the Year.
We at 818 would love to invite you to choose a Word and take a journey with us. To help you get started, here are steps for allowing the Lord to give you the specific word he has to build your testimony in 2016.
1. Pray and asked the Lord to show you.
2. Just as others choose their “words of the year” lists, look around you at whatʼs going on in your own life. What is a recurring theme of sermons, Facebook/Twitter posts that poke at someplace tender in your heart, books you have read or comments from trusted friends?
3. Spend time in the Word looking for your word.
4. Once you think you have heard from the Lord, watch for confirmation. I know that sounds so vague!! But it is an awesome way to let the Lord speak into your heart things that He is preparing for you.
5. Write it down! Share it with someone ... maybe several! Maybe you will gather a group of 5 others and meet for coffee once a month and share what the Lord is showing you.
6. Look around at everything, searching for the moments of refining and growth that the Lord has prepared for you. Remember, this isnʼt a reflective Word ... it has proven over and over again to me that no trial comes to me that has not passed through the hands of the Father and that He already had a provision in place!
7. Would you consider sharing your word with us? Maybe pictures when you gather or of your word?
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy;