My husband Will works for the YouVersion Bible app, which is a free Bible ministry of Life.Church. And every year, Life.Church encourages their staff members to pray about one word that will inform their ministry and life for that coming year.
Honestly, I’ve sort of half-heartedly tried praying about it before, but since I’m not a staff member there, I never felt a strong impetus to really and truly listen for a word that God could be giving me to focus on for the next year.
…Until this year. I actually prayed about it, fully this time. And you know what? I actually got a word from God that I should focus on for 2018.
And with any message that I hear from God, my initial reaction is always something like– hmmmm maybe it’s my brain playing tricks on me. Maybe God didn’t actually say that. Maybe I’m just making it up. Maybe my brain is just taking a word that I heard earlier in the week and spitting it back to me. (Anyone else have that reaction? It can’t be just me!)
But when the message is truly from God, even though I second-guess myself, deep down I can tell. It wasn’t my brain making things up. It was God hearing my prayer and giving me an answer.
The definition according to Dictionary.com: “To set, adjust, or fix in a new or different way.”
And the Bible verse that popped into my head to go along with the word: Isaiah 43:19. “[God says] I am about do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
The last 4 years have been really hard. It’s been one difficult time after another. Every time Will and I thought that we were about to see the end of the awfulness, it kept coming. And it was different stuff that kept the awfulness coming. Major loss and grief. Uprooting our lives multiple times. Rejection from close friends and colleagues. Chronic illness. Vocational unrest, stress, and unhappiness. Financial strain.
That’s not to say that we didn’t have some good times– but the fear of the awfulness never ending and continuing to ramp up seemed to overshadow our efforts to live fulfilling lives in which we felt like God was present and active.
You could say that we have been in a wilderness, a desert, for the last 4 years.
This Bible verse from Isaiah is God’s message to the Israelites who were later exiled from the promised land, scattered into different lands, no longer together with those who worshiped the same God. They were in a wilderness, a desert, wondering if they would ever return to the way their lives were before.
But through the prophet Isaiah, God tells the exiled Israelites that there is a new thing happening, that there will be a path and a river through the seemingly never-ending desert. God is doing something new. And guess what? They ended up being allowed to return to the promised land.
This word, RESET, and this verse from Isaiah is a balm to my weary soul. It tells me that there will be an end to the continuing awfulness. It won’t be a desert forever. There will be a way. There will be a river. God is doing something new in our lives. I don’t know how or when or what, but I can trust that God is up to something new.
I see our Christian minimalism journey as a huge part of this reset. We are following the Holy Spirit’s urgings to simplify and remove those things that do not support the aspects of life that matter most to us. We are resetting our lives in how we use our resources, our time, and our energy. This new river has a current, and it’s moving us in a direction where, even when awfulness happens, we can still appreciate the water and the path that God has provided. I am so ready to refocus and see what God has in store, rather than cowering in a corner, worried what fresh hell will be unleashed on us the next time around.
How is God making a new way, a new river, in the desert in your own life? How could God be speaking to you to refocus and reassess what is most important?