Do you have a word you’d like to highlight this new year? Even though it’s February, it’s not too late.
Lots of my friends adopt a defining word for 2020 and it seems to be a better idea than New Year’s resolutions. There’s a lot of stress tied to resolutions when we become intentional about losing weight, determining to change jobs, relocating or any measurable goals. It’s too easy to fail.
Well, how about an immeasurable goal? Choosing a word for the year can define your year uniquely. Yes, you won’t be able to see a change in your waist measurement or finish up that remodeling project you’ve been procrastinating over. Your diet might not be as healthy but it will nourish your soul.
My word is rest this year. I didn’t choose my word. My word chose me. Reflecting on last year’s word, “joy,” I decided I’d flunked miserably on living that one out, so I thought I’d chose it again to get it right.
As I thought out loud about my choice, my husband chimed in with a suggestion. “How about the word, “rest?”
I shook my head. “I can’t think of anything more blah. I don’t need rest, I need to get more done.”
He looked at me funny. “I think your brain needs rest.”
“Really?” I rolled my eyes but as soon as the words were out of my mouth I realized he had a point. (I didn’t say he was right, I said he had a point). Even still, the Lord has a way of elbowing me when he wants me to get something.
Little did I know that in a few short days I’d flying cross-country to bury my mother.
In two short weeks, I found myself in the throes of planning a funeral, purchasing a cemetery niche, cleaning out my mother’s room at her assisted living home, selling her furniture, meeting with her lawyer, and paying her bills. About ten days into it, I felt the responsibilities piling up on me, as if I were a can of peas on the bottom row of a pyramid display at an old-time grocery store.
“I need a break, Lord.” But how?
Slipping into my go-to stress reliever, I took a walk which turned out to be a bit nerve-wracking. I was staying with my sister who lives on a busy street with people all around. Hitting the sidewalk was dicey with bicyclers whizzing by you on one side and electric scooters and skate boarders flying by on the other. Yikes.
I set out, dodging a jogging couple who passed me on the narrow sidewalk. About two blocks down I remembered seeing a Catholic church. I’d crossed the street and saw several signs on the church building pointing to the, “chapel.” Intrigued, I followed it.
I slipped into the building and discovered I had it all by myself. My sanctuary of peace. I dropped all the stresses of the day as I soaked in the silence in this modest white-walled dwelling. Ah, serenity in the city’s midst.
As I leaned forward in the pew, I spied a hymn book. Dare I? What if someone heard me?
I determined I didn’t care. I needed to sing, so I flipped open the hymnal and filled the air with praises to Him. My rusty voice reverberated against the tall curved ceiling, the walls echoing back the words. It was one of those moments where eternity and daily life mingle in pure joy. I continued singing for an hour until my throat wore out.
I gathered up my winter coat to leave, knowing God had given me a gift, a moment to rest. He’d once again restored my battled mind and soul. If I’ve learned something about life, it’s that stress and joy are mortal enemies. I pushed open wide the door to reconnect with the world and a verse came to mind.
“You have prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Psalm 23:5. Yes, amid, sorrow, turmoil, stress, and exhaustion, God set a table for me to fellowship with him. He had maneuvered a rendezvous to meet with Him. The psalm continues, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
I trekked back to my sister’s house, dodging traffic and school kids flying home from soccer practice. How tenderly he had taken care of me while taking care of my mother’s affairs. He created an urban pasture for this one exhausted sheep. His promise, spoken though the writing of a simple shepherd who would become king, reminded me my eventual dwelling place is with Lord forever. But meanwhile He’s set a table before me in this life.