A dear friend of mine and Todd’s recently challenged us to choose a word for 2020, one we felt led by the Lord to embrace and pursue over the next 365 days.

This is mine.

Up until a few years ago, I would say I was pretty focused, even goal-oriented, but then life got complicated. Messy. I won’t make a list of excuses. I know my struggles are not unique. They were just new to me, and although I see clear evidence that God did what He does and worked in spite of me during this time, I know for sure I let life and the Enemy get to me and was not the active, intentional participant in His plan that I truly long to be.

I got distracted.

This year, more than anything else, I want to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength (Luke 10:27). Loving God requires obedience (1 John 5:3), of course, and obedience requires FOCUS.

Because I believe it helps to know and name your enemy, here are the all-too-familiar “demons” I’m up against, all of them utterly ridiculous in light of the given truths:

  • Lack of faith. God has promised to finish what He began both in me and in the people that I love (Phil. 1:6). Things may not go the way I wish they would, but that doesn’t mean He’s not in control or that He’s not at work. God cannot lie and keeps His promises (Heb. 6:18; 1 Cor. 1:9).
  • Pride. What others think of me only matters insofar as it affects their opinion of the God I serve. My goal is not to impress people (Gal. 1:10), but to please God by representing Him well (2 Cor. 5:20). He will work everything together for my good and His glory (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:11).
  • Insecurity. God made, gifted, and placed me in His infinite wisdom with His purposes in mind (Psalm 139; Isa. 43:7, 21, 25). When I return all He’s given me in worshipful obedience, I am successful, no matter how the observable results of my actions measure up in the estimation of others.
  • A critical heart. We are all sinners in need of mercy and grace, not just from God unto salvation from the consequences of our sin, but also from each other as we learn how to let God’s light shine through us (Rom. 3:23; Col. 3:13). Because God alone is able to see into the hearts of men and women, my efforts are better spent encouraging and praying for others than analyzing underlying motives I cannot possibly discern.
  • Laziness. My time, abilities, relationships, and resources are not my own. All I have is from and for God and should be returned to Him with the kind of diligence, enthusiasm, and joy His divine perfection deserves. To give less is to lie about Who He is and downplay what He’s done for me.
  • Worry. Sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, gracious, and merciful God is better at taking care of me and my people than I am. When I jump ahead or go outside of His will in caring for them, I just get in the way and complicate matters.

Quite a list, right? Even so, greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world (1 John 4:4).  This being true, I intend to FOCUS on obeying—thereby loving—God better in the following areas this year, relying on Him alone to give me what’s needed as I submit to His will and purpose as stated:

  • My devotion. I will serve my God only, regardless of what any one else thinks, wants, or expects.
  • My marriage. I will love my husband well according to God’s will for His benefit, not mine.
  • My family. I will remember that my family members are individuals with a God-given purpose to fulfill for His glory, not characters in my own narrative, and love, pray for, interact with, and invest in them accordingly.   
  • My friendships. I will be an example of God’s grace and mercy to my friends, continually praying God’s best for their lives and expecting nothing in return.
  • My service. I will use my gifts, talents, abilities, experiences, and resources to participate in the work of the Church beyond what my vocation requires out of sincere love for God as my appropriate act of worship.
  • Evangelism. I will make a more intentional and consistent effort to share, prove, and illustrate the Gospel of Jesus Christ everywhere I go.
  • My work. I will use my time wisely, educate myself appropriately, and pour all I have into every opportunity I’m given to communicate truth for God’s glory alone because He deserves no less.
  • My resources. I will steward what God has given me in a way that honors Him and proves my commitment to His purposes over all else.

I used to think choosing a word for the year was kind of trite, but it resonates now.

Honestly? I think I need this rope around my waist, to be lashed to the mainmast, so to speak, if only so that at the end of what is beginning to look like it could turn into another to-and-fro year, I can better evaluate and appreciate what God did and praise Him for it.

How about you?