Happy New Year everyone. Can you believe it?
Princes’ song is rattling around in my head, 1999 that was released in 1982. Whew – that seems like last week. We were on the cusp of Y2K when 1999 finally came around. Anyone younger than 30 likely remembers none of that non-event where everyone was waiting for a computer meltdown at midnight, and the world as we know it to disintegrate. Not to be though. Not to be.
2022 is a done deal – in the books as they say – and we now look forward to the uncertainty waiting us in 2023.
Are you excited?
The way you answer that question says a lot about where your heart is right now. And that’s not passing judgement. It’s just the truth.
Our usual approach in the Adams’ household and Embracing Brokenness Ministries is to consecrate the Year to God. Seeking His favor and guidance as we move on to what He has in store for us. I laugh to myself though, it’s not like January 1st is a year after December 31st. It’s just the next day but we place so much significance on the moment.
New Years resolutions I’m no fan of. If we need to resolve to do something different, then do it when it needs done not on the 1st of the next year.
But I digress.
We recommit to the causes we care about most, and inevitably one of those is losing weight. And my personal favorite, exercising more.
A second tradition I’ve adopted heading into the New Year is asking God for a word or phrase that He wants to highlight – in providing a sort of theme that I can cling to – when doubt and uncertainty creep in or to get excited about when something comes to fruition right in line with the Word He has provided. That’s not limited to the calendar either since I’ve received those words from Him a few months early at times and few months into the New Year as well. I’ve been asking since 2015. Not as long as many others I know. But when comparing notes we all see the significance of that Word and have called upon it many times over.
For many folks, including me, we set goals for the year. In our ministry we modify and create new plans around our teaching and how we intend to specifically reach a world in desperate need of healing. For example, we will be publishing our long-awaited book entitled Embracing Brokenness, which encapsulates everything we’ve learned over the years, providing examples of how identity plays such a critical role in living out our God given purpose.
We plan to launch the Embracing Brokenness app where our listeners and allies around the globe can be linked immediately to relevant content and teaching that gets to the heart of the message that God has given us.
It’s an exciting time around here.
But, we recognize for many there’s still the experience of the fallout from COVID and how lockdowns and isolation and loss are still top of mind for many impacted in traumatic ways by a worldwide pandemic.
We can’t make light of how that’s affected all of us and our ability to connect with each other and with God himself.
Dedicate the Year to God
All of this is why it’s critically important to dedicate the year to God. To ask for His provision, His love, His strength, His guidance, His Grace. You name it. All so vital to sustaining life in the Kingdom of Jesus.
We do it as a matter of course here but it’s not as natural to do so as we would like it to be. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Simply offer up yourself. Give everyone and everything to Him for this coming year. Your family, your finances, even your faith. Ask God to continue the process of spiritual formation in you and your spouse or loved ones. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
In His word God clearly tells us to pray without ceasing. In I Thessalonians 5 Paul reminds us, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Why would God ask us to pray without ceasing?
Because He understands our frailty and our desire for His intervention in the affairs of life. It’s hard enough to live in a fallen world hell-bent on snatching away any joy that may come from our relationship with Him and others that are like-minded.
Colleen and I were meeting with a group of young ladies currently incarcerated in our County Prison. What struck me most was the deep desire for change with likely 4 of the initial 5 that we met with -professing to know Jesus. The draw to anesthetize themselves with whatever “ism” filled the spot only reserved for God landed them in an extremely volatile situation where bad choices ruled the day. The influence of others and their admitted inability to care for themselves appropriately resulted in arrest and conviction for crimes none ever expected. Wounded and broken it was an easy way out. But God had other plans and we pray they get the help needed to turn it around.
It’s the small choices that we need help with through an intimate relationship with God that matter most. They add up quickly. We must pray, we must seek God’s wisdom and stay connected to the source.
Dedicate 2023 to God.
Maybe go one more step toward the tactile. Pull out the wall calendar and lay hands on it. To some of you that may seem a little weird but try it. Dedicate the physical calendar in the spiritual presence of God. Dedicate the year and your decision making throughout the year. You’ll be amazed at how quickly that calendar fills up and you press toward the goal forgetting to bring God into it. Do it ahead of time and seek His intervention if tempted to go awry.
How about this one? Dedicate your preconceptions about the year to God. We all have goals, as I said earlier, but what if God has other plans? What if, what if, what if? We anticipate something with either elation or angst. Perhaps neither are appropriate.
Hopes, dreams, desires, decision making, preconceptions, finances, plus, plus, plus. You fill in the blanks. All need to come under the authority of God – dedicated and consecrated to Him. Ask God to be Lord and reign in every detail.
An Advance Word
If you’re so inclined, ask Him for a Word that you can place on a yellow sticky note somewhere or in your calendar to remind you how God spoke into your life and provided a little help in advance of the unexpected. It works for me every time. How, you say? In the quiet place. Find one and believe God wants to communicate with you. Maybe through knowing or that still small voice. Maybe through His Word. Maybe through a friend or mentor. He’ll come through. He always does.
What is He saying to you?
Do you have a verse that He wants to bring over you and your year?
Try not to put words in His mouth. Be patient. Don’t rush the process. It’s not what we want to hear that counts. It’s what He specifically has for you. Often times it’s the process that God wants for you to draw you closer to Him. To hear more intimately how He wants to be integral to your life.
His words act as a guide over our life. Like an invitation to see what God is up to.
For 2022 God gave me the word, Persevere. I can’t recall how many times that word rescued me from doubt and helped me to stay the course. Perseverance and even a derivative, patience is not something I look forward to learning. But God often brings us what we need, not what we want.
There were times in 2022, I can remember writing about in one of my blogs, I just wanted to quit. In fact, I did quit for 24 hours and was so miserable I had to un-quit to get back on track. I remembered my word. Persevere.
Like a rudder to my ship, His words guide my thought process and my emotions in the storms of life. Rudders are even more important in the rolling, crashing waves of a storm. Navigating into the waves are what get us through them.
I would encourage you to ask for interpretation when God reveals His word or phrase. It’s not often it becomes immediately obvious what He has in store for you. Don’t be afraid to ask consistently for guidance and understanding as you live daily into His will.
Regularly journal what you’re hearing and re-center yourself around what He’s saying.
My personal experience in hearing from Him comes as I pick up a pen and paper or type on a keyboard with no specific ideas in mind. God gives me the words and the prayer for my own heart, right then and there. I write them down and refer to them often.
Ask God for His orders for the year. We live in an unpredictable time with a yearning for things to get better. That yearning can get in the way of what God wants if we start acting on them without Christ at the center of all of it.
Consecrate and ask, dedicate and listen …… What are you doing God, and what are my orders? I want to be a part of it. What is your counsel and your instructions for us as a family, for my career, for my relationships.
The place of our blessing and abundance resides in an intimate relationship with Christ. We must be intentional in developing that and joining Jesus in it.
Don’t leave Jesus out of the most seemingly mundane decisions. Like vacations or trips or respites, and especially in ministry. All believers are in full-time ministry in our witness and influence.
What are your plans to draw close to the Lord this year?
I want only what He wants for me, how about you in 2023?
If you don’t easily hear from God in conversational intimacy with Him just start with simple questions in silence. He speaks through His Word, through other people, through worship, through circumstances, and our closes friends. He speaks even louder in the silence of quiet time with Him. In our hearts.
Ask Him to guide your year and what His orders are for you. Write it down. Refer to it often. It’ll be wonderful to participate in as you go through this new year.
Blessings to you all and Happy 2023.