Friday, January 1, 2016

Another New Year

Somehow last year has quietly slipped away and we’ve turned the calendar to another new year!  A long time ago my dear father told me that time seems to move faster the older you get.  I didn’t believe it!  It didn’t make sense to me back then – but it does now.  I know what he meant.  Each year seems to go faster than the year before.

Two thousand fifteen was a hard year in many ways.  Commitments to things that required much prayer and wisdom, watching the decline of my dear, little mother, loss of a grandbaby born too soon and so much more.  But in the middle of it all, there was so much to be thankful for.  Time with dear ones, answered prayer, seeing God’s hand in things that seemed impossible.  Birthdays celebrated, grandchildren’s smiles – hearing them say ‘I love you’ – and more than we could ever have imagined.  Hearing God’s voice give direction, peace in our hearts when things seemed to go wrong, knowing we are right where He wants us to be for this time and surprises He planned long before we knew about them.

Over the last few years I’ve listened for God’s still, small voice to my heart – listened and waited for Him to give me a word for the new year.  A word that would be an anchor, a reminder, an encouragement and – at times – a challenge.  Many words came to mind through the last weeks of this past year but one was like a flashing neon sign in my heart.  It’s a word that I’ve had before and I wondered if I was missing something.  Shouldn’t I have a new word?  But God kept bringing it to mind in ways I couldn’t miss.  So, I embraced it and gave it much thought.  It might be just another word to you but I know God has things for me to learn as I live out this word through this new year.  My journey may try to pull me away from this word.  At times it will be hard to let it show through my life – at other times it will be easy.  As this new year – and this ‘new’ word - takes hold in my heart I feel a bit of excitement to see how this is going to play out.  How is God going to use this word?  How is He going to use me because of what this word can show through my life this year?  How will I grow because He’s working this in the deepest parts of my life?

My word for the new year is J-O-Y!  Sometimes simple.  Sometimes not, but the thing that’s most important for me to remember – no matter what’s going on around or inside of me – is that JOY has nothing to do with circumstances.  It has nothing to do with emotions.  It has nothing to do with my attitudes.  It is His JOY shining through me.  His JOY speaking to the hearts of dear ones or strangers.  The Bible has much to say about joy.  It makes it very clear that JOY isn’t something I can drum up, paste on my face or put on like a coat.  The Bible tells me that ‘the Holy Spirit [God’s Spirit] produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, JOY, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!’ (Galatians five)

So, for this new year, I choose JOY!

  ‘Joy does not simply happen to us.
We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day.’
Henri J.M. Nouwen