For the past six years, I have asked God each December to give me a word (or words) for the coming year. I have learned a lot from this practice and have been blessed and encouraged as God revealed new things to me and sometimes new and deeper meanings about the words themselves. Here are the words He's given me over the past six years:
- 2005: Endurance
- 2006: Victory
- 2007: Peace & Simplicity
- 2008: Intimacy & Devotion
- 2009: Press in/Press on
- 2010: Come Away
The word for 2010 came to me last week while I was reading from my favorite devotional, Streams in the Desert by L. B. Cowman, published in 1925 and updated in 1996 by Jim Reimann.
Allow me to tell a bit of history before I share the entry for Dec. 24th.
I first obtained this wonderful devotional in 2005 after a group of writers I meet with annually was participating in a "dirty book" exchange. The "dirty" in this case meant "used" and the exchange was performed in the "take away" method where the gift can be stolen twice by others before it is safe (isn't that game called "Dirty Santa?"). A dear friend of mine had spoken often of how much this devotional meant to her after the loss of her mother, so when it was my turn to open a wrapped book or take one away and there was a copy of Streams in the Desert in play, I promptly stole it out of the hands of another (rather famous) writer. I thought I was just getting a copy of a book that came highly recommended. Little did I know how very soon I was going to need the wisdom and comfort I would find between this book's covers.
Two weeks later, my life went into a tailspin. I dropped into a vast and dark desert of the soul that would last for well over a year. Heartache, loss, and grief were my constant companions in those following months, and Streams in the Desert became the way God spoke to my heart most often, offering me encouragement and hope and the strength to continue on. I wore out the paperback version and "upgraded" to a beautiful soft suede-covered edition a year ago. The pages are already highlighted and marked and sticky-tabbed. I also own a copy in my Bible software program so I can easily look up a passage and always have it with me when I travel.
Anyway, here is the entry from December 24th that God used to tell me my word for 2010:
We would be better Christians if we spent more time alone, and we would actually accomplish more if we attempted less and spent more time in isolation and quiet waiting upon God. The world has become too much a part of us, and we are afflicted with the idea that we are not accomplishing anything unless we are always busily running back and forth. We no longer believe in the importance of a calm retreat where we sit silently in the shade. As the people of God, we have become entirely too practical. We believe in having “all our irons in the fire” and that all the time we spend away from the anvil or fire is wasted time. Yet our time is never more profitably spent than when we set aside time for quiet meditation, talking with God, and looking up to heaven. We can never have too many of these open spaces in life —hours set aside when our soul is completely open and accessible to any heavenly thought or influence that God may be pleased to send our way.
Someone once said, “Meditation is the Sunday of the mind.” In these hectic days, we should often give our mind a “Sunday,” a time in which it will do no work but instead will simply be still, look heavenward, and spread itself before the Lord like Gideon’s fleece, allowing itself to be soaked with the moisture of the dew of heaven. We should have intervals of time when we do nothing, think nothing, and plan nothing but simply lie on the green lap of nature and “rest a while” (Mark 6:31 KJV).
Time spent in this way is not lost time. A fisherman does not say he is losing time when he is mending his nets, nor does a gardener feel he has wasted his time by taking a few minutes to sharpen the blades on his mower. And people living in cities today would do well to follow the example of Isaac and as often as possible visit the fields of the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. After having grown weary from the heat and noise of the city, communion with nature is very refreshing and will bring a calming, healing influence. A walk through a field, a stroll by a seashore, or a hike across a meadow sprinkled with daisies will purge you of the impurities of life and will cause your heart to beat with new joy and hope.
The little cares that worried me,
I lost them yesterday,
Out in the fields with God.
And He said to them, "Come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest a while."
I'm hoping this will be a year when I frequently "come away" by myself to a secluded place and rest a while with the Lord. Perhaps you'll find that secluded place too.
See you in 2010!