Determining the Lord’s focus word for me at the start of each year is usually a fun exercise. This year the process has been less fun and more a painful path to self-discovery.
My word is—drum roll, please—“listen.”
It’s not the word I wanted. I tried to ignore it. I picked and journaled about a different one. But “listen” kept popping up, sometimes several times a day, and I finally waved the white flag of surrender.
“Okay, okay,” I said to the Lord. “I get it. You want me to focus on my listening skills this year.” Three ways of doing so came to mind:
- Listen to others. Be fully present in a conversation. Be slow to speak and quick to hear what others say. (James 1:19)
- Listen to godly advice. Pay attention when given wise counsel. (Proverbs 19:20)
- Listen to God’s voice. Stay attuned whether He whispers or shouts. (Isaiah 55:3—“Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life.”)
Here’s where the self-discovery part showed up. Listening to God’s voice is all good and well, but listening alone is not enough. Over and over, the Bible pairs it with doing. Matthew 7:24 is one example: “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.” Having my ears open to receiving God’s words is good, but I must be willing to act upon what I hear Him say.
So then, what if God tells me to do something that feels ‘way beyond my expertise? What if He calls me to a task that’s bound for failure unless He shows up? What if He invites me to take a leap of faith bigger than any leap I’ve attempted in the past?
Listening to God give marching orders is one thing. Taking the first step is quite another.
Determining my one-word this year has revealed pockets of fear. It’s like I’m standing on a high diving board with knees knocking. God is saying, “Jump!” and I’m sticking my fingers in my ears to muffle His voice. If I don’t hear Him, then I don’t have to take action, right? Not.
I suspect this year will be one of growth that comes by listening to God and then doing what He says even if that means doing it afraid. Part of me wants to resist; the other part of me tiptoes toward the end of that diving board knowing God will catch me when I take the leap.
So, my friend. What’s your focus word this year? And how does it resonate with you so far? I’ve told you my story. Now I’d love to hear yours.
#OneWord #LeapOfFaith #ListenToGod
Oh, Grace, your message is so precious. Thank you for being transparent. I always think of you as one who knows no fear — you defy fears and embrace them as opportunities for acting in faith. But now I see that of course, you’re just like the rest of us! 🙂 Your ministry to me over the years has been such a gift. The one question you asked in your post is the hardest for me to contemplate: “What if He invites me to take a leap of faith bigger than any leap I’ve attempted in the past?” I’ve had to do that a few times in the past but now, at my age, I have an attitude that doing such things is for younger people. HA! Actually, increasing old age will probably require me to take even more leaps of faith, bigger than anything I’ve taken in the past. Such thoughts are opportunities for me to prepare for choosing faith over fear. Thanks again, Grace, for your rich ministry to so many of us.
Oh Linda — if you only knew! I am certainly not a fearless woman, but I know how to “do it afraid.” I’ve done that plenty of times. I think I’ll have to just keep living that way. Whatever I hear the Lord say in the weeks ahead, even if it’s to take the biggest faith leap yet, I will do it afraid. Hang on for a white-knuckle ride! Choose faith over fear and run with it. We’re never too old. In fact, we ought to model what it means to do it afraid to those coming behind us, right?
Grace, thank you so much for sharing! You are such a beautifully gifted writer. My word is trust. I do believe I’m in the middle of a journey. It started several years ago with the word perseverance. At the time, I thought I knew it was for the year I had just gotten through. Within the first week of the new year I realized that was not the case. Within weeks I was facing the loss of two very important family members. And knew immediately I would not learn to persevere if there was nothing to persevere through. Last year my word was praise. That work came after I had about 20 words in a list I was praying over until the very last day of the year. Then God showed me that praise should be injected into all of the other words. It was really a hard “concept” for me, until He took me through the most difficult season of my life. And there were many moments spent clinging to Him in agony not able to function or feel, not understanding or knowing what to do EXCEPT to praise Him. And I was blown away by the healing I found in praising Him. I now know 100% that as long as I can praise Him, I am ok. And I can choose to praise Him anytime, anywhere! So very early in November He told me my word for this year is trust. Not something that has come easy in the past, but I am so ready. To “simply” live a Spirit-led life and trust Him to work out all of the details. I’m not sure what He’s going to ask me to trust Him with so that I can learn this lesson. I’m sure it will be harder than anything I can imagine. And He’s given me some hints that we’re talking about some pretty life changing things. And I’m all in. Wherever He says to go I’m trusting the result is magnificent. Would LOVE some prayer that I will not try to rush or force things (that’s an old trick of mine that never works out). That I will stay in constant communication with Him and that He will give me a Spirit of discernment to know His voice from the enemy’s cunning charm and manipulation. Thanks so much for the forum to share all of this. I truly love the way He can use one small, single word, to bring about so much spiritual, emotional, mental, physical growth. It is mind blowing and awesome!! And I love hearing about other people’s words. So much goodness! Hallelujah!
Hi Katie. Thanks so much for sharing your insights here. We can all learn from each other, yes? I love what you said about “perseverance” and realizing that you can’t learn what it means until you face a situation that requires it.
“Praise,” too — what a powerful word. I totally “get” what you said about choosing to praise the Lord anywhere, anytime and finding healing in it. There’s so much power unleashed when we praise especially in the midst of hard places.
And as for “trust.” This word brings to my mind a picture of a baby cradled in its parent’s arms. The little one is sound asleep, or lying there and studying the parent’s face. No wrestling. Just nestling. Complete peace. May you experience this kind of trust as the new year unfolds, no matter what it brings.
I’ve already shared with you that my word is steadfast. The interesting thing is that it is the word this year for Proverbs31 ministries where I volunteer! Just another confirmation.
Hi Nancy. “Steadfast” is a wonderful word. It brings to mind a picture of a tree being blown by the wind but not knocked down because its roots go down deep.
My word for 2020 is Vision. You’re being called to listen to others, advice, and God. I’m being called to see … myself, my purpose, my God.
What an exciting year for both of us.
Hi Sandra. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment. “Vision” — yes, that’s a great focus word for the new year. It also makes me think that sometimes God needs to tweak our perspective (maybe that comes to mind because I just had to get a new prescription for my glasses). It sounds like this will be a good year of personal and spiritual growth.
Grace, thank you for your posts, especially today’s. You and others encouraged me to choose a word for the new year. That word for me is look: look for God’s work in and around me, look for His love in the everyday events of and people in my life, and look for His personal messages to me in His Word. Joining our church in a challenge to read through the Bible using a daily devotional Bible, God seems to be highlighting to me how many times He spoke directly to people, even appeared to them, and how He was concerned with every detail of their lives. So thankful that God promises to always be with me. Looking forward to a year of looking for Him!
Hi Lenora. “Look” is a great word! To me, it infers a more intentional action than just to “see.” How often we might see something but never take the time to study it or pay close attention to what it means. It’s about living life with our eyes wide open. Yours will be a wonderful journey as you look for the Lord’s involvement in your life this year.
Hi Grace. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. My word for 2020 is ‘know’. I want to know God as He truly is, not what I make Him out to be. I want to know His heart, I want to know His love, I want to know His voice. I want to know His will. I want to know how to trust Him without reserve.
Hi Kathy. Thank you for posting your thoughts here. I appreciate what you said, especially, “I want to know God as He truly is, not what I make Him out to be.” That’s so important. Our thoughts about who God is govern everything about us.
May He grant your heart’s desire!
Hello. One word ,for this “oldster” perhaps could be “discern”.; receive knowledge on (seemingly) Marching orders, in months ahead. Thanks alot ,Grace : super posts.
Great word, Emma! It will be interesting to see how the Lord uses this in your life.
Wow Grace! A few things came up here in your blog as well as comments from others that is repeating itself. Trust comes up a lot and has resigned with me this past few weeks. However, my word for 2020 is “silence”. And I took this as not just to keep quiet and not speak, but more to listen and share more effectively. Kind of like your word listen! Amazing !
Hi Cathy. It sounds like God is trying to tell you something through the repeats 🙂 I agree with you — “silence” is kind of like my word “listen.” It’s hard to hear unless we’re quiet.
My word is a phrase: “But there’s more!” It became obvious when I heard it various times in various contexts.
I see it as believing God for His blessings, trusting God to enable me to do the “extra mile” when I’d rather just sit idly by, wanting God to open my eyes to who He is more than before!
Hi Rosalee. Thanks for leaving your comment here so others can learn from you. I like your phrase, “But there’s more!” It reminds me of Ephesians 3 where we’re reminded that God is able to do exceedingly more than we can ever ask or imagine. It will be interesting to see how He works this out in your life.