It’s one of the highlights of my year. Every holiday season our family gathering begins with a very special tradition that my parents established years ago.
We go around our family circle one by one and each of us (now 10 or so people) shares what God has done over the past year. Stories of the joy and adventure of the year and also the struggle and heartache are shared, and the time is usually marked by a fountain of tears from all of us. I’ll be honest, as a young girl I wasn’t a huge fan of this tradition. Anything that required being vulnerable and sharing my feelings was not my idea of fun. But now, these hours that we spend sharing the highlights of our year are invaluable to me.
There is power in remembering and declaring the faithfulness of the Lord. I love the way David says it in Psalm 77:
“Once again I’ll go over what God has done,
lay out on the table the ancient wonders;
I’ll ponder all the things you’ve accomplished,
and give a long, loving look at your acts.”
Psalm 77:11-12 (The Message)
In recent years we have added to our family tradition and now share a specific word that we believe God has given us for the year ahead. It’s an opportunity to look back on the previous year and see how God faithfully worked in intentional ways around that year’s word, and it also pushes us to press into what we feel He is drawing us into for the next season. This has been especially meaningful and powerful for our family!
My personal word for 2017 was ‘growth’. And it certainly turned out to be the theme that marked the year for me. This was one of the harder years that I have walked through personally; I have known the pains of growing and being pruned by the Lord. It was stretching and uncomfortable at times, but as I reflected with my family I could see God’s faithfulness covering all of it as He grew me and drew me closer to Him. And as I look ahead, my word (or words) that I am declaring over the new year is ‘deeper faith’. We will see how this theme manifests itself as the days unfold, but I believe that my year will by marked by it.
I wonder what word the Lord is giving you? I know for me, being a mom and maintaining a busy daily schedule, it is easy to haphazardly stumble into a new year. Days come and go so quickly, and before I know it an entire season passes with little intentionality on my part to press into God’s big-picture vision in the midst of it. However, I have seen the power in declaring words over my life and have watched how the Lord uses those words to keep us focused and draw us closer to Him.
As the freshness and the possibilities of a new year still linger, I challenge you, with the guidance of His Spirit, to mark your year with a word—and then keep your heart and eyes open to see how God interweaves that word into your story this season. And maybe just maybe…this time next year you and your family can join us in remembering and bearing witness to what the Lord has done around your chosen theme.
So will you join me? Put a word on 2018 and let’s see what God does!