Happy New Year to you!
. . . and you, and you, and you . . .
Are you ready for 2019? That seems to be the off-hand question I’ve gotten for the past month, and my answer is always the same: “As ready as I can be!” I tend to approach the year with an open hand and an open mind—I’m TERRIBLE at predicting the future. Still, I can safely say that my tradition of focusing on one word each year has proven a faithful lighthouse through the tides of each year. This past year my word was RISE, and I truly did. I rose above some personal, familial, romantic, and ministry-related challenges. I leaned closer into a freshly developing tribe of local friends that are family. I set even more healthy boundaries and found that I could empower my heart and mind better to rise further and faster from doing so. I rose above ghosts of the past, fears of the future, and learned how to rise in present circumstances. And now I look ahead to facing a new year secured in hope, truth, wholeness, and love. That is why I’ve decided that my word for 2019 is ANCHOR.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have stepped into a new leadership role in a fresh context that can easily push me to lean into doubts, fears, insecurity, and hopelessness. Ministry is hard, y’all. Not only that but trying to maintain a healthy personal life in the midst of ministry can be a difficult endeavor. Still, I’m determined to keep paving the way for it! I’ve been blessed through the years to have trusted friends remind me who I am and whose I am on dark days. I’ve been blessed to have a strong faith that guides me to ‘the rock that is higher than I.’ [Psalm 61]. I am looking forward to carrying those relationships and truths into this next year.
I want to focus more this next year on finding things and people to anchor myself to in a way that will help me to be a better, even more authentic, person. I know that my main anchor will always be Jesus—He’s been the anchor that’s held me for so long, and I know I can trust Him to continue. Even as I was thinking about this word for the year, my first look went straight to scripture, and I chose a verse in Hebrews 6 to guide me through the waves ahead.
What I love about this translation of the verse is that it creates an image in my mind of a scene from THE WIZARD OF OZ. It’s the part when Dorothy and her crew peek behind the curtain to discover that the “Great And Powerful OZ” is just an average dude using a voice modulator to sound bigger and stronger—a facade that crushed the spirits of those seeking a great and powerful leader. This verse reminds me that my hope in Jesus, which is safe and secure, is the same in front of and behind the curtain. He’s the real deal—no farce, no facade. I also love what the Matthew Henry Commentary mentions about this scripture:
Here, we are in this world as a ship at sea, liable to be tossed up and down, and in danger of being cast away. Our souls are the vessels. The comforts, expectations, graces, and happiness of our souls are the precious cargo with which these vessels are loaded. Heaven is the harbour to which we sail. The temptations, persecutions, and afflictions that we encounter, are the winds and waves that threaten our shipwreck. We have need of an anchor to keep us sure and steady, or we are in continual danger. Gospel hope is our anchor; as in our day of battle it is our helmet, so in our stormy passage through this world it is our anchor. It is sure and stedfast, or else it could not keep us so.
First, it is sure in its own nature; for it is the special work of God in the soul. It is a good hope through grace; it is not a flattering hope made out of the spider’s web, but it is a true work of God, it is a strong and substantial thing. Secondly, it is stedfast as to its object; it is an anchor that has taken good hold, it enters that which is within the veil; it is an anchor that is cast upon the rock, the Rock of ages. It does not seek to fasten in the sands, but enters within the veil, and fixes there upon Christ; he is the object, he is the anchor—hold of the believer’s hope. As an unseen glory within the veil is what the believer is hoping for, so an unseen Jesus within the veil is the foundation of his hope; the free grace of God, the merits and mediation of Christ, and the powerful influences of his Spirit, are the grounds of his hope, and so it is a stedfast hope. Jesus Christ is the object and ground of the believer’s hope, and so it is a stedfast hope.
I believe that this will be a year of experiencing crashing waves, low tides, high tides, sunburst stillness, and watching life thrive around me. I am walking into it with a positive outlook and the reminder of what and who I’m anchored to in the middle of it all. I know it won’t be easy (is it ever?) but I’m walking through it with head and heart held high, clinging to truth and believing for the best. I hope you’ll join me on the journey as I continue embracing this word and learning through it along the way. Here’s to a brave new year!