Happy New Year! I hope that 2022 has got off to a good start for you and I pray that you know God’s blessing and faithfulness in the coming year.
Over the last couple of weeks, as many of us do, I’ve been taking some time to reflect – thinking back on the last year and seeking God for a focus for the year ahead. While I am the sort of person who likes plans and goals, the thing I’ve found most helpful over the last six years has been having one word as a focus for the year. I usually begin the year with some goals related to the word and some idea of where it will take me, but I also enjoy seeing how God uses it in ways that surprise me and how he teaches me things I’d never have expected.
Some years it has been transformational, like 2016 – the year of “surrender”. Other years, the impact of the word has been much more subtle, but I have always found it a useful practice.
As 2022 approached, I was unsure if I would have a word. Normally I have a good idea of what the word will be at least a month in advance, but this year I had nothing… until finally, over the last few days of 2021, a word presented itself to me.
2022 is going to be the year of “embrace.”
There are several areas where I see this playing out:
- Embrace God
- Embrace wisdom
- Embrace life/ opportunities
- Embrace the moment
- Embrace the messiness
- Embrace others
I plan to share a few posts in January with my initial thoughts on some of these, so I’ll begin today with the first one: embrace God.
This has to be the starting point as we enter a new year. For many of us, 2021 was hard, and I know it has worn me down. So many people close to me have experienced devastating pain and suffering in 2021, and as I paused to reflect at the end of the year, I realised I was weary, anxious, fearing disaster, and struggling to trust God. At times like this, I can very easily drift into self-sufficiency and thinking that I have to deal with things by myself, so I need this reminder to turn to God – to allow the trials of life to draw me to him rather than driving me away.
As I looked up some Bible verses on the theme of “embrace,” there were two that I found relating to this:
“How long will you wander, my wayward daughter? For the Lord will cause something new to happen— Israel will embrace her God.” (Jeremiah 31:22 NLT)
This verse encourages me because, even when we have ingrained patterns of self-sufficiency, God can work in us to change that, to cause us instead to turn to him. And the other verse, from the parable of the prodigal son, shows the welcome we receive when we do turn to God.
“So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20 NLT)
It’s a two-way process: embracing God and knowing his embrace, and my hope is that it will be one that builds strength and trust.
I’ll share more about some of my other thoughts on “embrace” next week, but if you’re a regular here, you’ll know I always need a song to tie my thoughts too, so I’ve chosen “Here with me” by MercyMe.
What about you? Do you have a word for the year or goals for 2022? Feel free to share in the comments. And if you have a word for the year, I’d encourage you to check out Lisa Burgess’s One Word community where you can connect with others to learn about how their words are impacting them and to share and receive encouragement. You can find out more at Lisa’s blog or on Facebook.