My word to focus on, to keep me grounded throughout 2017 was HOPE. I started the year with a very selfish focus on Hope. I wanted the year to be about achieving dreams, hoping in getting what I wanted for my life. As the year unfolded I learned that Hope isn’t about me. Through scripture, devotionals, songs, books, mentors and friends I slowly learned that Hope is about healing, reconciliation, redemption. Our Hope is in Christ. Romans 5:5 says, “and Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” To believe in healing in a broken world, reconciliation in a fallen world, and redemption in a sinful world seems futile, but Christ shows us that Hope is not futile. Hope is not ridiculous, or chasing dreams, or frivolous; it isn’t child’s play believing in Santa Claus. Hope will not leave you empty, it will not be an embarrassment, Hope does not put us to Shame. Healing will come, Reconciliation has happened, Redemption is ours. What we dream, what we desire — is ours through this Hope, this Christ, the Savior. Anchor yourself in Him and Hope is never futile.
For 2018 my word will be PRESENCE. Gary Chapman is a counselor and author who promotes the idea of there being 5 essential love languages that we speak and receive. My top love language, by a large margin, is Quality Time. For me that simply means being present. I understand the value of time, effort and energy so receiving gifts of time, effort in being present, and expending energy on me are overwhelmingly appreciated. Many circumstances in my life leave me feeling overlooked and unnoticed, so occasions where someone clearly notices me and wants to be present with me speaks volumes of love in my life. I know that those I want to be present with the most do not always have the ability to physically be present with me. My preference is physical presence but short of that a phone call or well timed text can also speak presence because it takes thinking of me and acting on that to make a call or send or text.
Those who have heard my Cajun Jesus story or who have read several of my posts may know that I struggle with connecting to an invisible God. I have a hard time with God not being physically present in my life. I want him to show up at my house, come in for tea and cookies, give me a hug, sit with me; but I know that is not going to happen, so I need to become more aware of the times God is present with me in other ways. As I’ve contemplated my word for the year over the past month I have been overwhelmed with the number of times I have heard Emmanuel – God with Us spoken, sung, or written. Yes, it is Christmas and Emmanuel is as popular a Christmas word as Noel, Silent Night, and Santa Claus, but this year I’ve really paid attention to it, taken it in, been overwhelmed by the enormity of what that word, concept, reality means. God showed up on a doorstep (manger) and had meals with people. He even left snacks for us to remember his time with us.
I want to be present with those I love and care about. I am the show-up person. If there is a Bible Study, meal, event, or activity that I have committed to be at – I am there. I am always physically there, but I am not always emotionally, mentally, or Spiritually there. I want to be better about that. When the Israelites were wandering in the dessert God told them to build a tent to place in the center of them and He would preside there. God tabernacled among them. He was PRESENT with them. He is PRESENT with us. I want to be aware, I want to see, I want to engage with God’s PRESENCE.