For the last several years, I’ve been challenged to pray about a word that would define and give focus to the coming year.
This would be a word I could come back to again and again to align my heart, provide a pathway for personal goals, and direct my gaze to God’s best for me.
Words matter, and the Lord showed me in a mic-drop moment this week that He had been crafting a message for me through these words for the last THREE YEARS.
2021 was a year of significant change for our family. My husband Matt began working full-time at Open Door Baptist Church, and the first Sunday of the year I was introduced to the Word of the Year in the women’s Sunday School class. We were each given a canvas to create a reminder of our word. As I considered how God was directing me, I knew what my heart longed for. My Word for 2021 was “Walk” – as I prayed about walking on the water with the dreams God had given me.
Just a few months into 2021, it was evident that God was preparing my family to take life one step at a time. My father-in-law, who we live with, had an unexpected heart attack and triple bypass surgery. So much changed very quickly for our family, in how our household operated and the ways in which we took care of each other. There were also choppy waters and full out storms in the life of our church, and the waves came hard. The Lord asked us to walk on the water, keeping our gaze locked on Him. We learned that walking on water required one foot in front of the other, step by step by step. Progress could seem very slow, and even dangerous. But, I can look back now and see the incredible, miraculous power of Jesus as we walked through that year.
Entering 2022, there wasn’t much that felt certain. As I thought about my previous year’s word Walk, I felt like the Lord moved my feet backwards, and I realized that walking on the water first required stepping out of the boat in faith. My Word for 2022 was “Faith”, and more specifically faith in action.
God was asking me to step out in faith – trusting that in the midst of uncertainty, God would place a foundation under my feet. He turned my attention to the walls of Jericho, falling because of faith in action. And this word certainly was the hallmark for an unexpected year. God accomplished an incredible work in the life of our church family, and I had the blessing of being part of the pastoral process, powerfully led by the Holy Spirit. God also unmistakably opened doors for a new opportunity with the ministry where I work, and asked me to follow Him in faith. In fact, God lovingly gave each person in our family new platforms to step out and trust Him.
Even as 2022 crashed to a close with a number of difficult circumstances, God was already making a way for my heart to know He was with me. And, just a few weeks into this new year, I’ve never needed a Word from the Lord more. My 2023 Word of the Year is “with”.
I purposely didn’t capitalize this word because this “with” is right in the middle of whatever sentence Jesus is writing in my life. I want to be WITH Jesus. His presence is the only place to find peace, power and purpose. Jesus is WITH me in the middle of it all, and in every moment this year will bring. This is the reason Peter stepped out of the boat in the first place and walked on the water – he wanted to be WITH Jesus, and Jesus said, “Come.” My heart this year is to be with Jesus and to recognize that Jesus is with me, which motivates my words, attitudes and actions.
This week I printed my word of the year design, and put it in a frame on a shelf with my other words of the year. It’s visible from my desk, and reminds me regularly of how God is directing my paths.
After arranging the pictures, I sat down and looked at the words. Then, I read them together, and realized the Lord had been writing a message for me the last THREE YEARS. I was absolutely blown away!!
WALK WITH FAITH.
The Lord spoke to me: Jill, walk with faith. I have been working all things together these last three years, writing My story in your life so you will see My purpose is for you is to walk with faith. I made you to walk on the water, to step out in faith and to be with me. This year, walk with faith, by my side.
Let me encourage you in the same way. God is writing a beautiful story in your life of His faithfulness, and working in each detail to bring you close to Him. He is there with you, right now, and will be with you no matter what next step He is asking you to take in faith. The peace, the power, the purpose you long for is found in the presence of Jesus. So, step out of that boat, walk on the water, and be with Jesus.
In 2023, we can walk with faith.
If you’ve never considered a word of the year, it’s not too late! Check out this quiz from Dayspring to get you started.