Happy New Year! I hope 2018 has got off to a good start for you!
As usual, the start of a new year is a time for making resolutions, setting goals, and planning for the year ahead.
Just over two years ago I first discovered the idea of selecting a single word as a focus for the year. I gave it a try with “surrender” in 2016 and then chose “voice” for 2017. In both cases I found these words challenging but really helpful. I have learned a lot, and they have carried throughout the year much better than resolutions I have made in the past, which tend to be forgotten after the first month or so.
As I have been thinking and praying about a word for 2018, the word that has kept coming back to me is “focus.”
As usual, I’m not sure exactly where the word is going to take me during the year, but some definitions of focus which appeal to me include “directed attention” and “a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding.” Here are a few initial thoughts on why I was drawn to this word:
Focus on God: I have been reminded increasingly over the last couple of months about how important it is to focus on God, that he needs to be at the centre of my vision and my thinking, that time with him reading, praying, and listening is so important, that nothing should be allowed to get in the way of that, and that if my focus is truly on God everything else will fall into place.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” (Matthew 6:33 NLT)
Focus on what really matters: Worry has been too much of a distraction lately. It has always been a natural tendency of mine and it is far too easy to get caught up in anxiety over things that will probably never happen, or which are not worth the time and energy I devote to thinking about them. I need to be intentional about turning my thoughts away from these things and onto God.
“We don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on what cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT)
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” (Isaiah 26:3 NLT)
Focus on what God is calling me to do: I think lately I have been trying to do too much. It is hard because there are so many things I enjoy or want to be involved in, and I don’t like to turn down opportunities, but at times it has left me tired and stressed, with things I once enjoyed becoming a burden. I think this year I need to be better at seeking God’s will and saying no, even to good things, if they are not what he is calling me to at the moment.
“Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a safe path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” (Proverbs 4:25-27 NLT)
“I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NLT)
It will be interesting to see how this word plays out.
What about you? Do you have a word for 2018 or any specific goals? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments!