I never make new years resolutions. I just watch college football on New Years Day and each chips and dip.
It’s worked for me.
However, the coming of a new year is an opportunity to evaluate the year gone by and to think about what the next year could be like. I started to reflect on the coming year during a sermon a few weeks ago, and God hit me with something.
I don’t always participate in the One Word resolution series. Just “picking” a word feels too much like a resolution. However, the one word concept is extremely useful for praying about big stuff.
If I have a hard time hearing God, maybe it helps to just tune in for one word.
Two years ago God spoke the word “redemptive” to me. It changed how I write and dialogue. It even led me to write a book: Divided We Unite about practical Christian unity.
I’ve witnessed the ways God can use a simple word to shape his people, and so I’m always listening for another one. It’s the kind of thing you can’t force. You just wait with your hands open or with a pen and a blank page.
The Word I Heard
The word I heard in church a few weeks ago was “Stability.”
In other words, it’s time to get my act together with what I’m already doing, to improve on where I’m at rather than always looking at the next thing.
When I heard the word stability, I thought of a 3 legged stool. If you have a stool seat without any legs, the seat could roll and spin all over the place, and that’s exactly how my life has felt recently.
So I sketched a stool with 3 legs and began to imagine what that could look like. What is a “stable” life for me?
The three areas that came to mind were work, family, and spirituality.
I especially latched onto the idea of getting my work situation stable. With a few new clients and some fresh eBook projects, I could secure a better line of income from my freelance blogging, book writing, and editing. I also thought of that work stability in terms of paying off the rest of my seminary loans this year and some other nagging debts.
The more I thought about stability for my work, the more I thought of ways to cut away projects that weren’t essential and how to incorporate more promising projects that had far greater potential.
It was freeing and exciting. I started sending emails, making lists, and writing drafts.
My One Word Was Backwards
A few days into the euphoria of establishing “Stability” as my one word for 2013, I realized that I had something backwards. True, family should be number two on that list, but as the list stood, my work came first.
And so the concept of stability began to change in my mind.
I hadn’t been seeking God and his Kingdom first. I wanted to get my own kingdom stable before giving God his due—which is exactly my struggle EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
I had to ask a big question:
What If My Spiritual Stability Came First?
If my spiritual stability comes first, then I pray before I work, seek ways to serve others each month, and take time to pray privately, with my wife, and with my church community.
If my spiritual stability comes first, I’ll be a better husband and parent.
If my spiritual stability comes first, I can offer my work to God and listen to him. He can guide me and help me focus on using my writing gifts to serve him and others.
I’ll even find greater fulfillment in my writing work because I won’t expect my work to fulfill the role of God in my life. When work is #1, it automatically becomes god—my source of joy, hope, and peace.
Work can never provide those things perfectly in the way that God can. Work cannot change my heart and help me love my wife and son.
With a revised 3-legged stool in mind, I set my sights on a new kind of stability with my spiritual stability coming first and then family and work following respectively.
Why I Know Stability Is the Right Word
As soon as I got a clear picture of stability for the coming year, things went straight to hell.
Intense struggle and even opposition is sometimes a sign that you’re onto something good with God. Don’t believe me? Check out my book Hazardous. It happens over and over again in the Bible:
Calling from God >> big problems >> big deliverance.
Sleep became difficult, anxiety struck, I started feeling sorry for myself, I started caring only about myself, unexpected expenses popped up, and a list of other struggles hit. I had a hard time praying for a few days just because I was tired and distracted.
When opposition and conflict strikes, I try to remember that there is something, call it Satan or evil or whatever, that doesn’t want me to find stability, especially spiritual stability. There’s also my own desire to put myself first, to bump work to the top again and to make things all about me.
I’ve been passing through that struggle, and it isn’t pretty. However, it’s actually good news. I know that God has not only given me peace about the word stability and confirmed it through others, my life is also confirming that stability is exactly what I need to fight for.
I’m more aware today than I have ever been about my own imperfections and lack of stability. And that seems to be the perfect place to start a year focused on finding God’s stability for my life.