This is not the post that was originally scheduled to go out today. But something happened last week in my community, which prompted me to write about this subject. Please note that I am not a licensed counselor or medical professional. If you are dealing with depression, anxiety, thoughts of suicide, or the like, please please please seek professional help. And I am sorry that this topic is not a pleasant one to think about. But it could potentially reach and help someone who needs it.
Death by self-harm (suicide) has increased over the last couple of decades. This is a testament to the world we live in, and how much the devil’s grip has spread. Suicide affects people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Most of us can say that we have a friend of a friend who has died by suicide. And anytime we hear about someone dying this way, it breaks our hearts. Why do people commit suicide? Generally speaking, depression and life’s circumstances have overwhelmed the person. They might believe that is their only solution. They might believe they are all alone. They might believe no one cares for them and everyone would be better off without them.
If you or anyone you love has had these thoughts or feelings, I want to reassure you that you are not alone. I don’t know what your life looks like. I don’t know what circumstances you are facing. I don’t know what kind of relationships you have. But there is another answer to your problems. It might sound cliché, but the truth is that Jesus loves you with a very real and deep love. If you turn your heart to Him, He will be there for you. He will help you get through whatever it is you are facing. And there are people in your life who care about you too. They would be heartbroken if you left them.
In Charles Stanley’s Handbook for Christian Living, Dr. Stanley says that suicide is wrong because:
• It violates the Ten Commandments.
• Nowhere does the Bible condone a person ending life to escape circumstances.
• Life is a gift from God.
• Suicide is an expression of self-hatred, and the Bible says we are to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”
• Suicide usurps the power that belongs only to God.
• A person who commits suicide short-circuits God’s will for his or her life.
• It is an expression of lack of faith. Philippians 4:19 states, “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” This applies to financial, emotional, and physical needs.
• Suicide is an act of selfishness.
• It hurts the cause of Christ.
Webmd.com gives the following tips if you believe someone you know is in immediate danger of killing themselves:
• Do not leave the person alone. If possible, ask for help from friends or other family members.
• Ask the person to give you any weapons they might have. Take away or remove sharp objects or anything else that the person could use to hurt themselves.
• If the person is already in psychiatric treatment, help them to contact the doctor or therapist for guidance and help.
• Try to keep the person as calm as possible.
• Call 911 or take the person to an emergency room.
• Call your local suicide prevention hotline or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health (SAMHSA) National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255).
The numbers above are for the U.S. Here’s a list of suicide crisis lines by country: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines.
If you are the one who is struggling, please:
• Cry out to God. Start talking to Him and tell Him how you feel. Ask Him to help you overcome the emotions you are battling.
• Remember that it is satan who is putting these dark thoughts in your head. They would never come from God.
• Please seek professional help. You can start by calling the hotline for your country. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_suicide_crisis_lines.)
• Talk to a friend and tell someone how you are feeling. It would also help to surround yourself with positive Christian people. Joining a church would be a good place to start.
Many of us are familiar with John 3:16 (KJV), “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Jesus came to save all of us. That means you too. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. In John 10:10 (MSG), Jesus said, “I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.” What a beautiful promise this is. And this promise is for you too. But you have to accept Jesus as the Lord and Savior of your life. If you have never done that, then I invite you to do so today. Please read the prayer on this page: Accepting Jesus Into Your Life.
As I said above, I am not a licensed counselor or medical professional. But I am someone who Jesus has helped. I have gone through times of darkness in my life. I am sure most people can say the same. No one can walk through life without dealing with trials. Yes, the trials in life do bring us down. I am not minimizing your situation. But I can tell you first hand that Jesus is the answer. He can and will help you find peace in your life, if you cling to Him. When I am feeling down about something, it helps me to: pray, read from the Bible especially the Psalms, and listen to praise music.
The Bible tells us countless times to not be afraid. Why? Because when we have Almighty God in our court, there is nothing He can’t handle. And it says in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all our worries and anxieties on the Lord because He cares for us. The Passion Translation puts it this way, “Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.” When we are intentional about seeking Him, He will not fail us. Please know that you are deeply loved and there is no circumstance that you cannot overcome, with God by your side.
Drink deeply of the pleasures of this God. Experience for yourself the joyous mercies he gives to all who turn to hide themselves in him. – Psalm 34:8 (TPT)
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
There is a certain story in the book of Genesis that fascinates me. I have read it numerous times, but recently it has been pulling at me and I can’t get it out of my head. Let’s look at Genesis 32:22-32 (NKJV).
And [Jacob] arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.”
But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!”
So He said to him, “What is your name?”
He said, “Jacob.”
And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.”
And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there.
So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip. Therefore to this day the children of Israel do not eat the muscle that shrank, which is on the hip socket, because He touched the socket of Jacob’s hip in the muscle that shrank.
Here is a little backstory. After many years, Jacob is about to be reunited with his brother, Esau. Jacob is scared because when they parted ways, it was not on good terms. He spends the night wrestling with “a Man.” Some scholars believe he was wrestling with Jesus. Others say it was an angel. Generically, you might hear he wrestled with God. He was definitely wrestling with someone sent by God.
I have been pondering this story and asking God why it has gripped me so much. One aspect has to do with prayer. Many commentaries point to the thought that we may wrestle with God in prayer. I don’t know that I wrestle in prayer. But I would say I struggle with prayer. I do pray daily and often. But I admit that at times I feel defeat in prayer. I allow doubt to creep in. Of course, this comes from the enemy. He knows how powerful prayer is and he will try to stop us from connecting with our Father. But Jesus reminds us in Luke 18 that we “should always pray and not give up.” Even when we feel like our prayers aren’t being answered, God always hears us. E.M. Bounds said, “Prayers outlive the lives of those who uttered them.” So, this story about Jacob wrestling does nudge me to cling to God in prayer and to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Also, in the book of Hosea, this story is touched on. In Hosea 12:4, it says that “[Jacob] struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him.” This illustrates that Jacob truly poured his heart out to God that evening. When we meet with God, do we pour our hearts out to Him? Or do we rush through this precious time so that we can get on with our day? Even though Jacob had important matters to tend to that day, he wasn’t eager to let God go. Do we cling to the Lord this tightly?
Another aspect that grabs my attention is the broken hip. It is believed that Jacob walked with a limp for the rest of his life. Of course, this not something we would ask for. But it still intrigues me, nonetheless. Every single day, Jacob could not forget this encounter with God. He had a tangible, constant reminder. I think this pulls at me because much of our faith is not tangible. That is why it is called faith. According to Oxford, faith can be defined as, “Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof.” This goes hand in hand with what I mentioned about prayer. Sometimes things will not go the way we like. Sometimes the unexpected with smack us in the face. When we do not see tangible results of our prayers or our efforts, or when life throws us a curve ball, the enemy will sneak in and plant seeds of doubt. That is why we must stand strong against the enemy’s schemes. We must remind ourselves who our God is. We must remind ourselves of His promises found in the Bible. We must remind ourselves that God is in control, no matter what.
Another viewpoint regarding Jacob’s hip that speaks to me has to do with the breaking in general. Sometimes God has to break us down to get us to a point where we finally depend on Him. All of Jacob’s life he struggled to make things work out the way he wanted, and he struggled in his own strength. I believe this was a turning point in Jacob’s life to finally lean on God’s strength. What does it take for us to finally lean on God? In the words of Tony Evans, “Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover He is the Rock at the bottom.” And as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10, “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
In case you were wondering what happened with Jacob and his brother, Esau – they did reunite on good terms. Did the praying, wrestling, and blessing from this encounter help? Perhaps they did. After all, Esau was headed towards Jacob with four hundred men, which could mean that he originally meant to harm Jacob. Overall, while this encounter did leave Jacob with a limp, he walked away with a better relationship with God and a renewed relationship with his brother. And there are deeper meanings with his new name, as his descendants would form the tribes of Israel.
And what can we take away from this story? This story nudges us to pursue a deeper prayer life. It reminds us to stand strong against the enemy and to hold tightly to our faith. And this story also helps us to turn to the Lord and to full rely on Him and His strength. May we walk with a strong faith all of our days, as we remember we have our Almighty God by our side.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
He will never leave us nor forsake us
Every single moment He is always there
We can always count on Him
And cling to His endless care
He laid down His life for us
And paid a price we can never repay
He did the unimaginable for us
And never dreamt of walking away
There is nowhere He won’t go for us
Nothing He won’t do
He will go to the ends of the earth
To orchestrate our rescue
His divine and unfailing grace
Greater than anything we can think of
What a priceless gift we have
In His immeasurable love
Valentines Day is something traditionally dedicated to couples. Many people across the globe give gifts and go out on a special date. Countless others have become engaged and many have married on this day. But thinking about love always makes me think of the Lord and the greatest love story ever told. We cannot find a perfect love in human beings. But we can find a perfect love in the Lord. However, while none of us are prefect, we can still learn to display the love of our Lord and Savior to those around us. We need to tap into the strength of the Holy Spirit living inside of us. Take a moment today to thank God for His unfailing and immeasurable love. And also ask for His strength to help you live out His love in your life.
The Bible has quite a lot to say about love. I will leave you with a few verses to reflect on.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
“We love because he first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…” – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” – 1 John 4:8
“Let all that you do be done in love.” – 1 Corinthians 16:14
“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:34-35
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
Over the last several weeks I have been writing about the subject of reverence and ways we can show God our respect. When you hear the phrase “fear of the Lord” – this means to have reverence for Him. and having reverence for God means that we respect Him. R.T. Kendall said, “What is missing in the church more than anything in the world at the present time is the fear of God and a sense of sin.” I do believe this is true and I believe that is why our world is in a whole lot of trouble right now. We need to turn our hearts back to Him. And one way we need to revere Him is through obedience.
Philippians 2:12 tells us to “…[obey] God with deep reverence and fear.” I find it very telling that when Paul wrote this, he associated obedience with reverence. When we obey the Lord, we are showing Him that we fear Him and respect Him. I understand that sometimes obedience can be scary, especially if God is asking us to take a big step or do something that seems unreasonable. But when we do what He asks, we are proving our devotion. We are telling Him that we are committed to Him.
Obedience is an important aspect of our relationship with God. But it is also a key that will unlock the doors we have been struggling to open. Do you remember the hymn “Trust and Obey?” Obedience and Trust go hand in hand. When we trust God, we obey Him. When we obey God, we will see that He is trustworthy. Trust increases our obedience and obedience increases our trust. It is a beautiful cycle that grows stronger over time.
Obedience also brings us blessings. God has a reason for each thing He asks us to do. With our human eyes, we might not be able to see the big picture. But God always sees the big picture. He sees the beginning and the end. He knows what is best and He works things out for our good. So even when what He asks seems difficult, we have to have faith that He knows what is best.
“Walk in obedience to all that the LORD your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” – Deuteronomy 5:33
We also obey God out of love. Just think about how much God pours His love, blessings, protection, guidance, comfort, care, and strength over us. How can we not want to honor Him and love Him in return with our obedience? Remember the words that Jesus spoke in John 14:15, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” That statement alone makes me want to show God my reverence, honor, and love through obedience.
I pray we all can turn our hearts towards Him, with proper reverence and respect. I pray we all can learn to wholeheartedly trust and obey Him. Humbling ourselves before God, and clinging to Him through each day, will ultimately bring us a sense of peace. We will know that our lives are in the hands of Almighty God, and that is the safest place to be.
I will leave you with a song: Trust and Obey performed by Big Daddy Weave
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been talking about reverence. I have mainly been focusing on how to show God reverence by kneeling in prayer. But another aspect I want to talk about today is our attitude. Although I try to be positive, I must confess that there are times when I still grumble. I have gotten a lot better in this area, but I still have room for improvement. Complaining is common in our culture. Sadly, it has become the norm, is fully accepted, and even encouraged. Happy people are often frowned upon these days.
But as Christians, we are called to a higher standard. We are called to be a shining light in a dark world. We are called to be the salt of the earth. But something that has been pulling on my heart recently is how this relates to reverence.
One thing we discussed over the past two weeks was that reverence is all about the heart. Well, Jesus tells us in Matthew 15:18, “But what comes out of your mouth reveals the core of your heart” (TPT). So, if reverence is a reflection of our heart’s posture, and if our words reveal what’s in our heart, then that tells me our words and attitudes are important when it comes to reverence.
I imagine it must grieve the Lord to hear us gripe all the time. In fact there is a Bible verse that mentions grieving the Holy Spirit. It says in Ephesians 4:29-32, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” When I think about my attitude grieving the Lord, this breaks my heart.
God is so good to us and showers us with blessings every day. Yes, we all face difficulties in life. However, God is still watching over us, protecting us, and caring for us through it all. He is faithful and trustworthy. He never leaves us, nor forsakes us. So, how can we possibly grumble when we know how good God is to us?
There are many Christians who just want a ticket to heaven and that is all. But there is so much more than that. Our lives belong to Him. Our words and actions should honor Him. Sometimes our pride puffs up when we hear things like this. We don’t want to let go of some things and live for the Lord. But I promise you that you will only find peace and joy, once you finally decide to fully surrender.
I heard Pastor Jentezen Franklin say something a few months ago that really resonated in my heart: “God doesn’t owe you anything. But you owe Him everything!” (Sermon heard on TBN June 21, 2020.) That statement says a lot. And it makes me want to have more reverence for the Lord. And one way we can do that is by changing our attitudes.
Reading through the Psalms specifically written by King David, it amazes me how he always praised God, even in the worst of times. He faced so many trials in his life, but he continued to praise God and to cling to God. He knew God was a good God. He knew God was faithful and trustworthy. David didn’t let his complaints stop him from full reverence for the Lord.
Psalm 144 is a good example in which David was facing something difficult. In some of the verses, he is asking God for his help. Yet he praised God through it all. He opens the Psalm with “Praise be to the Lord my Rock” (v 1). And in verse 9 he says that he “will sing a new song” to God. To read all of this Psalm, click here.
I pray our hearts can be like David’s (who was said to be a man after God’s own heart). I pray we too can show God our reverence, even in the midst of a storm. God does so much for us, every moment of every day. And He deserves all the honor, glory, respect, and reverence. Take some time today to praise God, either in your own words, or by reading a Psalm. Show Him reverence, and in turn your heart will soar.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
Last week I talked about how kneeling in prayer shows respect and reverence towards God. Today I wanted to talk about a Biblical example. You are likely familiar with the story of Daniel and the lions’ den. Daniel was living in Babylon where a law was passed stating that everyone had to pray to the king. Anyone who prayed to someone else would be thrown into the lions’ den.
It says in Daniel 6:10, “Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.”
Although there was a new law stating that everyone had to pray to the king, Daniel still prayed to the one and only God. Well, the king’s men saw Daniel do this and reported him. However, the king liked Daniel, so it upset him very much. The king didn’t want to throw Daniel in the lions’ den, but now he had no choice. You likely know how the story goes. When the king went to the lions’ den the next morning, he found that Daniel had survived, against all odds.
Daniel told the king in verse 22, “My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”
I love this story because it shows how deeply Daniel honored the Lord. He had such reverence for Him that he kneeled in prayer. And not only that, he continued to kneel in prayer, even after a law forbid it. Daniel did not fear the king or his men. Daniel feared God and only God. As a result, Daniel was faithful to God, no matter what.
As I mentioned last week, if you are unable to physically kneel, then don’t try it. The key to reverence is in our hearts. And when we learn the art of reverence, I believe our hearts will also cling to God in the same way. No matter what we face in life, we will still hold tightly to God and honor Him. We will know deep in our hearts how faithful and trustworthy our God is. And nothing can keep us from putting Him first in our lives.
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
A few months ago I started a new habit. Each morning I take a moment to kneel on the floor. In that moment I tell God that I am handing my day over to Him. I tell Him that I want all my words and actions to be for His honor and glory.
Kneeling in prayer is often found in the Bible. But I don’t believe many people do this today. I realize this is difficult for some with disabilities. So don’t try it if you can’t get back up! If this is the case, then in your prayer, tell the Lord you are kneeling in your heart.
Kneeling before God is an act of reverence. We show God that we respect Him and fear Him with a godly fear. I feel the art of reverence is being lost, little by little, with each generation. For example, we all know that many people use the Lord’s name inappropriately. Too many people do not give God a second thought, let alone give Him respect. Even Christians allow their pride to get in the way and stop them from fully surrendering to our Holy God.
God is greater than everything we know and can imagine. He is the only One who is completely holy and righteous. Our best efforts are filthy rags in His sight (Isaiah 64:6). We deserve the worst punishment. But thanks to His unfailing love, we have been given the gift of salvation. He gave us life and breath. Each day He shows us mercy and grace. There are so many reasons why we should show God reverence.
If reverence is an area in which you would like to grow, simply ask God to help you. He certainly will oblige. And even just the fact that you asked will help turn your heart around. You also can make it a practice to get on your knees each morning, as I do. This practice has helped shape my days for the better. It reminds me to praise Him and to honor Him. It reminds me to do my best each day, for His glory. It reminds me to not allow minor circumstances to affect my attitude. It reminds me that my whole life belongs to Him.
I challenge you today to take some time to evaluate your heart’s posture before the Lord. Do you need a renewed sense of reverence? If so, then pray about it and take a moment to get on your knees, either physically or in your heart. And He will be faithful to meet you there.
Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker. – Psalm 95:6
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
A new year and a new beginning
There is so much possibility
But we don’t know what lies ahead
For the future only God can see
We can plan and we can plot
We can wrap a fist around our goals
Or we can take a step back
And allow God to have full control
Yes let us cling to the Lord this year
While all our fears release
Knowing no matter what we face
We will have the Prince of Peace
What a precious gift we have
Our Father guiding the way
He gives us beloved hope
As we rest in Him each day
Dear Heavenly Father,
We have stepped into a new year with hearts full of hope. We desperately long to see brighter days ahead. Of course we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but we know Who holds tomorrow. So we humbly come before You and ask for Your help, Your guidance, Your strength, and Your provision for each day ahead. Thank You!
Lord, we pray for peace in the United States and in the world. We have become so weary and tired of all the chaos and violence. What the world needs is Jesus. We fervently pray that all hearts turn to You, because You alone can set us back on our feet. All our hope is in You. Thank You!
God, we pray for our loved ones who are lost and need You in their life. We pray that they will accept Jesus into their heart. We pray that they see You alone are the answer they have been looking for. The world might be trying to pull them down, but we stand on their behalf and pull them up. We pray for them to fully embrace You as Lord. Thank You!
Father, we also pray for complete healing on behalf of ourselves and our loved ones. We pray for physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental healing. Many of us struggle with different aches and pains, sorrows and struggles. We ask for a breakthrough. There is power in the name of Jesus, and it is in Jesus’ name that we humbly ask for healing from head to toe. Thank You!
Lord, we also ask You to break any bondages, strongholds, or chains that are holding us and our loved ones prisoner. Jesus came so that we could be free. So, we are taking hold of that freedom, right here and right now. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And since the Holy Spirit lives in each of us, that means freedom is here. We claim it and we accept it! Thank You!
God, we also pray for our finances. We know that You are our provider. Jesus reminds us that You know everything that happens to the sparrows, and that we are more valuable than them. We have nothing to worry about when we have You beside us. We know You will continue to provide and we are so thankful. We ask that You help us pay off our debts. As children of God, we know You don’t want us to be indebted. We will lend and not borrow, as we are reminded in Deuteronomy. Lord, we give You our tithe and offering in faith, knowing that we can’t out give You. We have nothing to fear. Thank You!
Heavenly Father, we also pray for our jobs and our ministries. Please guide us each day. We want to honor You and glorify You in all that we do. We remember that no matter who signs our paychecks, or even if we don’t get a paycheck in our current work, we are ultimately working for You. You have a purpose for each of us. You have planted us in certain places for a reason. We are in awe that You care about every detail of our lives, even down to where we work and our day-to-day interactions. So we humbly ask for Your wisdom, Your strength, and Your guidance with the things we will face. Thank You!
God, we also pray for our relationships. Please help us to nurture the relationships in our lives, with our immediate family, extended family, friends, and coworkers. Help us to share each other’s burdens. Help us to show others the love of Jesus. We pray for our relationships to grow stronger this year. You gave us precious loved ones to cherish and we are thankful for them.
Most importantly, pray for our relationship with You, Father. Please help us to grow closer to You. Please help us to seek You and pursue You. Help us to put You first in our lives. Help us to spend time with you daily, reading our Bibles, praying, and worshiping You. We want to become more like Jesus. We want to remove everything in our lives that You do not like. We want to cling to You every moment of every day. Help us to see Your footprints in our lives. Thank You!
Thank You, Lord! We are so grateful that we can come to You in prayer. And we are grateful to have You in our lives. We are in awe of all that You do and all that You are! We praise You, God! It is in Jesus’ name that we pray. Amen.
Here are a few songs I wanted to share:
– I Know Who Holds Tomorrow by Gaither Vocal Band (I had to share this one for my mother-in-law. She loved the Gaithers.)
– All My Hope by Crowder featuring Tauren Wells
– Break Every Chain by Jesus Culture
© 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
Happy New Year! I love new years, fresh starts, and clean slates. There is so much promise and possibility in the days ahead. And one thing I particularly enjoy doing at the beginning of the year is picking an anchor word to focus on throughout the year. Some years picking my word is easy, and I just know the right word. In 2019, I just knew the word Seek was the right word. Other years, picking a word turns into a battle of sorts. I might have a few good words in mind. But I don’t always know what word is the best word to go with. That was the case in 2020 when I finally settled on the word Grace. I do believe we should pray when we pick our word, so the Lord can help guide us down the right path and towards the things He wants us to focus on. This year, picking my word was easy. I knew what my word would be before we even reached December.
My word for 2021 is Cultivate.
This word kept coming up a lot towards the end of the year. I was part of an online Bible study with Proverbs 31 ministries that dealt with cultivating worship. At the time, the word really struck me and that was when I began to ponder making it my word for 2021. Then I read a poem by Daryl Madden with the title of Cultivate, and I knew that this was confirmation. Then I read a Dayspring devotional where the writer mentioned that her word for 2020 was Cultivate. And I saw this word continue come up a number of other times in different ways. I just knew deep down that this was the word for me.
According to Oxford, cultivate is defined as:
1 – prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening.
2 – try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill).
But what does cultivate mean to me and why did I choose it? With each new year, I always think of different areas of my life that I want to improve. My relationship with God is always my number one priority. In my spiritual life I want to draw closer to God, I want to seek Him more, I want to spend more time with Him, I want to praise Him more, and I want to pray more. But there are also numerous other areas that I want to improve in my family life, personal life, work life, writing life, etc. I want to live an intentional life. I want to be present in each moment. I want to make wise choices with my words, my actions, my health, my finances, etc. To think about all of these things can be overwhelming. But this one word – cultivate – will be a reminder to me throughout the year to nurture the things that matter most. It will be a reminder to make good decisions and to live with intention. It will be a reminder to focus on the important things in life. It will help me to embrace life to the fullest. With each new day, we can choose what we will cultivate in our lives. I want to cultivate the things that last and the things that matter. I am excited to see where the word Cultivate will lead me this year.
If you have chosen a word for the year, I would love to hear what it is. Please share in the comments.
(c) 2021 Bridget A. Thomas
If you have been following my blog for a while, then you might know that I like to choose an anchor word at the beginning of each year. The idea is to focus on this word throughout the year, keep it in mind each day, and hopefully it will help bring growth in the months ahead. In 2020 I chose the word “grace.” As the year is coming to a close, I have been reflecting on where this word led me this year.
Initially, I felt like I did not give grace the attention it deserved. But as I thought about it more and more, I realized that God still brought grace into my life in a variety of ways. I will start by explaining the ways that I tried to learn about grace this year. And then I will talk about God’s amazing work to teach me about grace.
In the beginning of the year, I read a book called Grace: More Than We Deserve, Greater Than We Imagine by Max Lucado. I have never read a Max Lucado book that I didn’t enjoy. His writing style is easy to digest and entertaining as well. This book was no exception. Grace was insightful, yet also humorous. Lucado has a way of keeping one’s attention with fascinating stories that bring the point home. Therefore, reading this book was an excellent way to learn about and focus on the grace of God.
Another thing that I did to help keep my mind in the right direction was to write the word “grace” at the top of every journal page, each day throughout the year. I also put sticky notes in a variety of places with the word “grace” written on them. These two things helped keep the word in the forefront of my mind.
Also, in the beginning of the year, I tried to make note of “Grace Moments” in my journal. These were moments in my day when I saw grace extended. These were moments when life slowed down a bit and love took precedence. Unfortunately, I neglected to keep this up though, as the year moved on.
The items above were the extent of my efforts. At first glance, I felt that I failed to embrace grace. But as I dug deeper, I realized that I learned more than I thought. Thankfully, God showed up, and helped fill in the large gaps that I left empty. Ironically, I needed God’s grace to teach me about grace.
It is no secret that 2020 has been a year of upheaval. I don’t have to go into all the chaos we saw, because you saw it yourself. But through it all, God’s grace was with me and my family. I was fortunate to work remotely for three months when the pandemic hit. I was fortunate to keep my steady job, when many others did not. I was fortunate that God provided for us and protected us through so much chaos. All by the grace of God.
There was something that I thought might come to pass this year, but it did not. It was disappointing, but I held onto the the words of Romans 8:28. The Passion Translation puts it this way: “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.” All by the grace of God.
This year actually turned out to be a very rich one in my spiritual walk. I have a newfound love of the Psalms. I learned the importance and the joy of Praise. I developed a stronger Faith and Trust in the Lord. I also sought a more intentional life and a more confident life. And I must say that I truly have had more peace and contentment on the inside. All by the grace of God.
I have also learned to extend grace to myself. I am learning the art of balance. I am learning to let things go. And I am learning it is okay to be me, even if the world wants me to be someone else. All by the grace of God.
To be honest, I did not want “Grace” to be my word for the year. I really wanted the word “Joy” instead. But I felt God nudging me to choose the word “Grace.” But the funny thing is that Grace has brought me Joy. God always works things out in a divine way.
I have much to be thankful for in 2020, thanks be to God. Looking back, I am amazed at all the ways He has been by my side and forever extending grace. Only God can work in such miraculous ways.
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
and put their trust in him. – Psalm 40:1-3
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© 2020 Bridget A. Thomas