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Every December, God begins to write a word on my heart as the theme for the coming new year.  I pray over the possibilities He stirs within me, and always sense a Divine preparation for the final word based on the current year’s events and experiences and my responses thereto. 
Some words have been simple and easy to embrace, while others have been an intimidating foreshadowing of what’s to come in the future. Regardless, all of the words have had the common purpose of addressing specific areas of my life needing developed, pruned, or refined. And never have they missed the mark. When I reflect on each year near its end, my word of the year seems to capture the spirit of God’s activity in specific areas of my life.
My word of the year for 2018 is undaunted, which means “not intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment.”
Interesting choice, God!  Let me explain why.
Last year (and glory hallelujah, does it feel good to say last year) was in many ways, epically challenging. Frustrating. Painful. Confusing. Disappointing. The year was running over with intimidation and discouragement by difficulty, danger, and disappointment! 2017 was beautiful and broken. There were necessary lessons that were incredibly painful to learn. Healing came in unexpected ways but left deep, tender scars as reminders of things we would like to forget but are better people for remembering.  Never have I felt so shattered, empty and laid bare in every area of my life as I did last year.
As I began to pray over what God desired to do within me in the new year, every fear, worry, insecurity and anxious thought about everything rose to the surface. It was overwhelming. Every hurt was raw and fresh. Hope that perpetually disappointed now laughed at and mocked me. Dreams that seemed possible haunted me like cruel nightmares. Anticipation of the unknown future paralyzed me. Peace was absent and anxiety was abundant. And all of the “churchy” answers in my heart simply filled my mind with more questions. Remaining numb easily became preferable to the risk of feeling again.
Then little by little, the numbness of life gave way to feeling again. The miracle of Christmas has a way of doing that, infusing life into a dying soul. I chose to let God into the painful places, and He rushed in with Psalm 62:1-2 which says, “My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will never be shaken!”
Those words.  The precious Word of God that I’d chosen to distance myself from sought me out with intention and purpose and hope. The God whom I had begun to keep at arm’s length now wrapped me in His love and assurance and peace without judgement. And all of the things that had broken me were now seen through a heavenly perspective of merciful boundaries and protection. I was quickly reminded of the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, and how decades of detours and disappointments were actually divine redirections in disguise. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph tells his brothers (who were the impetus of his years of turmoil by shoving him into a well, selling him into slavery, and lying to their father about Joseph’s supposed death), “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present outcome…”  Such a perspective required the spiritual maturity, character refinement, and skill development only possible through pain and hard times. Joseph had the choice to see the story of his life through human eyes or a supernatural lens. The former sees only the superficial pain and victimization, while the latter sees divine opportunities for obedience and surrender.
God loves us far too much to allow us to stay the way we are where we are in life.  His mercy is so boundless that He will allow pain and hardship and discomfort into our lives in the present as protection from ourselves in the future. He wants us to abide in Him, trust in Him, rely on Him, seek Him, hope in Him, and rest in Him. Always and only. And if there is any fiber of our being that is self-reliant or prideful, any motive rebellious or impure, any character trait flawed, any weakness needing strengthened, any insecurity needing overcome, any habit or pattern self-detrimental, anything coming between us and Christlikeness, or our reality and our destiny, God will allow it to be addressed in our life through the most beneficial, and often most uncomfortable ways possible because of His incomprehensible love for us.
So today, on January 1, 2018, I choose to welcome the new year undaunted.  I fully recognize that this really is a moment-by-moment decision.
This year may bring new health issues or prolong existing ones to which I need to better adapt. My plans may fall through and God may change direction and I will have to adjust in order to join Him where He is at work around me. There will be losses and hurts and the need to forgive and grieve. I will likely have to endure the uncomfortable a little while longer. I may have to swallow my pride and loosen my grip in order for God to move mountains in areas of my life over which I have tried to maintain control. I may have to face fears and insecurities in order to realize my goals. I will have to say ‘no’ to many good and better things in order to say ‘yes’ to fewer of the best things. There will be sacrifices to make. I may have to make decisions that make little human sense in order to be obedient to God. I will have to let go of things that are quenching my peace or ability to thrive in order to move forward in my life.
Yes, there will be moments of difficulty, danger and disappointment, but in those moments, I have the ability to choose that to which I will cling long-term to sustain me for the duration of those circumstances. I can choose peace over anxiety in all things (Philippians 4:6-7). I can choose to think on what is true and right and pure and praiseworthy instead of what is negative and harmful to my wellbeing (Philippians 4:8-9) by making my thoughts obedient to Christ by testing them against the Word of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). I can choose to trust that God has a sovereign plan for my life, working all things for the good of that plan (Romans 8:28) and choose to work with Him, not against Him, in the manifestation of that plan for my life. I can choose to trust in and rely on the Lord rather than my own understanding so that I will recognize Him, His wisdom, and know with certainty the path to take in life (Proverbs 3:5-6). At night, I can choose rest and tranquility over worry and control because I can confidently trust that I am safely in God’s care (Psalm 4:8). I can choose joy and contentment and thankfulness over being miserable and bitter, discontent, ungrateful, and critical (Philippians 4:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19; Philippians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).
And I can cling to the promise that my soul can find rest in God, Who is my rock and salvation and fortress and in Whom I will never be shaken in this earthly life (Psalm 62:1-2)!
Happy new year, friends!  May you be encouraged and empowered by the truth of God’s Word to walk into 2018 undaunted by that which you bring with you and all that is yet to come!
“My soul finds rest in God alone. My salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will never be shaken!” (Psalm 62:1-2)
“Not Today” by HIllsong

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