For the last few years, I’ve experimented with choosing a theme word or phrase at the beginning of each year. These words & phrases have shaped some of my prayers throughout the year, and have helped to provide context and vision for how things that are happening in the moment may be part of a greater story. Here are some examples:
- 2012: Fullness. I chose fullness based on language from Paul’s letter to the Colossians; the fullness of Diety dwelling in Christ, and the fullness of Christ dwelling in us. During this year, Val and I had Max in July and brought Ezra home from the Congo in November. I distinctly remember a 3 day stretch with a combined like 3.5 hours of sleep. Bringing those boys home brought a sense of fullness of joy, and also caused us to need His fullness to dwell in us because of our inability to push through in our own strength.
- 2013: Glory. A good job change. 3 healthy, fun, and growing boys. Some really amazing things happening at NE. This theme was a constant reminder about Who deserves and gets the glory in all circumstances.
- 2014: Agree With the Cross. Agreeing with The Cross for me meant seeing the world as a venue for constant, other-centered, sacrificial love. I felt it was going to be about mission, and in some sense it was, just not in the way I was expecting. This year made thyroid cancer a part of our family vocabulary, and brought with it two surgeries and a blast of radiation. Once in a moment of real sadness for what Val and I were facing, I said to Val that I didn’t want sickness, surgery and cancer to be the story of 2014. She said, “It won’t. The story of 2014 will be that you agreed with The Cross no matter what.” And she was right. I saw The Cross as more beautiful because of – not in spite of – walking through cancer and leaning hard on God and His people, who showed our family the beauty of Jesus’ sacrificial love in real, abiding ways.
I’ve begun praying about what it will be in 2015. I would love to invite you to do the same. I would love to see us all fully engaged, anticipating that God has a story He wants to tell to/in/through us this year, and that we can have our eyes open right from the beginning of the year, expectant as to what it will be.
Here are a few things I would recommend doing to guide the process of choosing a theme, not necessarily in this order, and this is by no means comprehensive, make it your own!
- When you’re reading/studying/memorizing Scripture, continually ask God what He might be saying to you (write down what you think you get from that!).
- Spend time in silence seeking the same thing. Sit. Wait. Write down what comes to mind.
- Talk to your community. See what shared convictions and insights might help guide you to something that is both individually and corporately significant.
- Music! Is there a song, or even a lyric from a song, that is so deeply rooted in your heart that it might fuel thoughts/feelings/ideas throughout the year? Perhaps your theme for the year comes ready made with its own theme song, absolutely nothing wrong with that.
The discussion is open. What are you sensing should be your theme for 2015 (or a Twenty Fif-Theme, as it were), and why? What are you reading, listening to, what are your friends saying that is sticking with you as a matter of heart-level importance?
I am anxious to see what God does with all of us and our community and city in 2015.
Here’s to the New Year.