A few weeks ago, Cherie, a Canadian friend of mine, happened to mention in a chat we were having on Facebook that she had identified her word for the next year.
A word for the year?
I vaguely recall other people had mentioned it. I stumbled across a post from one of my favourite bloggers, Ann Voskamp, who adheres to the practice.
I quizzed Cherie a little on its purpose for her, and her response got me thinking. She described it as a marker for defining the year or an attribute one may seek to develop.
I like the idea. I see it as a one-word goal almost. I’m not sure it would necessarily define my year, that is, I’d still set other goals. But I would hope it would have a gentle presence throughout my days.
So what would be my word?
I soon took it to prayer to see if the Lord had any great ideas.
You’ll recall I was quite taken by my first experience of observing Advent during December. So immediately words like: “adoration”, “devotion” and “intimacy” came to mind.
“Holiness” is an old chestnut that quickly got thrown in the mix. One of my daily devotionals mentioned it too:
“Being made in God’s image and reflecting His holiness is to be our supreme aim, and when we do so, the Lord’s glory shines brightly in us.”1
That pushed me over the line. So much so, just prior to Christmas, I emailed Cherie letting her know I’d arrived at my word for the year. I felt pretty chuffed.
A week ago as I was praying, I sensed the need to journal my prayer. I’ve done this a few times previously but it’s never become a habit. Friends of mine do this as a regular practice. Having just completed “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, a 365 day devotional of what Sarah believes Jesus was saying to her on any given day, I quickly grabbed pen and starting writing in my Moleskin.
I’ve continued the practice most days since.
Intimacy, obedience, devotion, experiencing Jesus, time with Jesus, have been regular impressions from these notations.
How do we ‘experience’ Jesus? How does one hear God? How do we listen for His voice?
Yes, we could discuss these topics at length, and perhaps during the course of the year, we will do just that.
But I was drawn back to the stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth from my Advent reading. They both had long periods of quiet during Elizabeth’s pregnancy: Zechariah nine months, Elizabeth five. Time to meditate and contemplate all Gabriel had told them and whom they were soon to introduce to the world.
“The more we inhabit silence, the better our hearing becomes. When we step back into the noise of our world, our hearing is a bit more fine-tuned and more likely to catch God’s whispers. In this way, we learn to stay alert and awake”2
And there it was!
My word for the year.
I want to catch God’s whispers this year.
What does this look like? I’m not sure yet. However, for the first two days of 2013 I’ve spent some of my prayer time being quiet, reflecting on my prayers and the verses I’ve read. And journaling.
I plan to keep doing this for now.
I’ll let you know during the year what I’m learning and experiencing from adopting a practice of being silent.
Oh, by the way, my friend’s word is JOY. Her six-strong blogging team is sharing their individual “words for the year” on their blog this week.
Do you have a Word for the year? I’d love to hear what it is.
Notes: 1. c/o Tabletalk from Ligonier Ministries and RC Sproul, 2. “Silence – and other Surprising Invitations of Advent”, Enuma Okoro, Upper Room, p.56