The new year is here within my reach, and my thoughts ping around my brain like the silver ball in a pinball machine. There are so many things I want to do as the year comes to an end, so many loose ends to tie up. Each thought sets off a ding! and lights up all the different parts of my life that need attention: I want to rest in peace and calm after a busy fall season. I want time and space to reflect on the year past, to see what God has done and how far He’s brought me. I just bought everyone’s Christmas and birthday gifts because, on top of the regular holiday craziness, there are nine birthdays we need to celebrate as well. I want to be present with my kids during the rest of their winter break, while still having to work, clean the house, and plan and make dinner.
I want to enter the new year with purpose and intention, with a word that will guide and frame the twelve months ahead, but I know that can’t happen while I’m rushing to and fro, both in body and mind. I can’t see and hear what God is up to when I’m too busy, unable to stop the activities, the responsibilities, the noise.
But in the midst of it all, there are pockets, moments, even hours when I can choose to put aside what clamors for my attention and to sit and be still. After the kids are put to bed, after the kitchen and living room are back in order, I sit at my desk with my journal and pen and empty space. I take three deep breaths because even though it’s quiet, I still need help quieting my soul. I open a fresh page in my journal, and in my usual way, I start writing to God.
Dear God, what a year it’s been . . .
I reflect on everything that has happened over the last year. I go through my planner with its scribbles and crossed-out to-do lists, remembering the events and what God showed me about Himself in those times. I try to pinpoint the feelings and lessons I learned to see if there has been an overall trajectory God had me on. I had chosen the word cultivate at the beginning of the year, and in many ways — though in ways I didn’t expect — God cultivated the soil of my soul through a fallow season and through all the yeses I said to Him this year.
Every year I’ve chosen a word, it has helped me stay grounded. It has given me a solid foundation to come back to when I start to wander aimlessly and busily through the year. When I get bogged down by all the mundane things of life, by the million decisions I need to make, I take a step back and remember the word.
Am I living it out? How am I doing so? What is God teaching me about it? What is God teaching me about through it?
It serves as a gentle reminder and an insight into how God wants to grow me.
My word for 2023 was cultivate, and now as I look toward 2024, I see how cultivate has made way for a new word for the new year. I faithfully said yes to everything God invited me into this past year, and now I sense God saying it’s time to focus, to learn to say yes to a few things and no to many things, to say yes to the better things and to say no to good things.
This will affect every decision I make, both big and small. It will most likely mean sitting at my computer writing more than I’ve done before and saying no to coffee dates, even though those are deeply important. My word for the year will shape the way I spend my time, my money, the way I set rhythms in my life. And though I can’t see everything God has in store for me, I know that when I live out my word for the year, it will be the way He unfolds His purposes for me.
I wonder what God is whispering to your soul as you look toward the new year. I wonder what word He has for you and what ways He’s going to work that word out in your life. He is speaking, and He wants you to hear. He wants you to draw near, to be bold in obedience, to stay rooted, and to grow more into maturity in Christ.
Be still, even when things are not, and seek the word He has for you, seek His purpose for the year ahead. Let’s live intentionally this coming year!
Making resolutions this year? Let us help. Take DaySpring’s Word of the Year quiz to find your 2024 Word of the Year – one word that will help you focus on what God is calling you to accomplish in the year ahead.