Happy New Year! It’s hard to believe 2017 is here already!
For many of us a new year means a new word to focus on. If you haven’t encountered this before, the idea is that instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, you pick one word to focus on throughout the year. I tried it for the first time last year with the word surrender and it was more powerful than I’d ever have imagined. You can find the posts about my year of surrender here.
As I considered a word for 2017 I found it hard to narrow down. The main words I considered were focus and courage, with dream and identity also in the running. I finally settled on a word which is probably a bit unusual as a word for the year, but which I think encompasses elements of all the other words.
My word for 2017 is…voice.
I’m not sure exactly how it’s going to work out in practice (but I’ve learned to surrender so that’s okay 😉 )
Here are some of my initial thoughts:
It starts with listening: listening to God’s voice, recognising his voice, actively choosing to focus on his voice, the voice of truth, in the midst of all the other voices clamouring for my attention, and then stepping out in obedience to his voice.
“The sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (John 10:3 NLT)
It’s also about listening to others: letting them know that their voices matter, taking the time to really listen and really hear them, especially those who don’t feel like they have a voice.
Then it’s about speaking: “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven… A time to be quiet and a time to speak.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,7 NLT)
It’s about finding my voice more and more- discerning when God is calling me to be quiet and when he is calling me to speak out, and finding the courage to do that.
I don’t mean only in the big things. Words have tremendous power- for good or for evil. That is something God has impressed on me more and more lately, and I want to be more ready to speak out words that are good- to be intentional about giving out compliments and encouragement, to give voice to these things rather than just thinking them but remaining silent.
It’s also about sharing what God has done- being a voice of truth and hope, especially to people who feel trapped and hopeless.
A verse that has been on my heart for several years now is:
“What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!” (Matthew 10:27)
It is part of the reason I started this blog, and I was so encouraged to look at my stats for 2016 and find that there have been visitors from 62 countries! I guess I’ve made a start on shouting it abroad, but I think part of what God is calling me to this year is using my voice more to tell others about him, both in writing and in speaking.
Two other verses I have been drawn to in connection with this are:
“Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.” (Psalm 107:2 NLT)
“Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” (Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT)
That is about as clear an idea as I have at the moment, but after last year’s experience I am excited to see where all this will lead in the year ahead. I know that the first step will definitely be taking time to be still and listen to God’s voice.
Do you have a word for the year? I’d love to hear what it is! The comments section here is a place where your voice is always welcome!