At the end of every year, I ask God for a key word to be my focus for the year ahead. My key word for 2017 was rest. In December I asked God what He would select for my 2018 word. The answer came before I said “amen.” After pondering it for a few weeks (Did I hear correctly?), I concur. My new word is choose.
This Scripture came to mind immediately: “Choose this day whom you will serve. . . . But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15, ESV).
This one followed closely: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit . . . ” (John 15:16, ESV).
I have made my choice: I know I want to serve the Lord. But before I chose God, He chose me. He did so for a specific purpose. These truths are guiding my choosing this year.
Big and small choices surround me every day. Yes? No? Good? Better? Best? It takes discernment and wisdom to move forward.
Most of all it takes a proper reverence for the Lord. As the Scripture says, “Fear of the LORD is the foundation of wisdom” (Proverbs 9:10, NLT). I’ve learned that the fear of the Lord means living appropriately in the presence of God.
So if I am going to choose well, my question becomes, “What does it look like today (or this week, month, or year) to live appropriately in God’s presence?”
I’ve identified six keys. Perhaps they will encourage and challenge you as much as they do me:
- Choosing well builds on rest. (2018 is building on 2017.) In Jeremiah 31:2-3, God promises rest to His people. Then he reminds them of another promise: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (ESV). I need to continue to focus on God’s love for me; He will faithfully provide guidance.
- My heart. God created me with a certain bent. Will a new opportunity be in line with how He created me? As 2018 dawned, I had two significant opportunities. I had to choose! As I thought about how I best operate, one percolated to the surface; the other fell away.
- My capacity. My friend Karma has a capacity for relationships that awes me. I, too, have a large capacity for relationships. But Karma is 25 years younger than me. I cannot compare my capacity to hers. I need to ask God what He wants me to take on.
- Inner peace. Just because I can, it doesn’t mean I should. The apostle Paul followed this caution. When he arrived in Troas to preach the gospel, he found that “a door was opened for me in the Lord.” Yet his “spirit was not at rest,” so he went on to Macedonia (2 Corinthians 2:12-13, ESV).
- Waiting. My prayers are not always answered the same day—or the same week. Choosing sometimes means waiting and living with the ambiguous, living with the “I don’t know.” But God does not leave us to flounder as we wait: “But they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength. . . .” (Isaiah 40:31, ESV). I want my choices to flow from strength, not weakness.
- God’s glory. This is the bottom line. My choices are not about me. They are about God’s glory, about reflecting Him to my world. “Your people shall all be righteous; they shall possess the land forever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I might be glorified” (Isaiah 60:21, ESV, italics mine).
As the year progresses, many choices will lie before me. God, in His grace, allows me to choose. In the process, I will continue to learn to lean on Him, to listen to His voice, to grow in wisdom. May our choices—mine and yours—lead to greater fruitfulness and ultimately greater glory to God!