I don’t know where the idea came from.
I just remember coming to the close of a year when I asked the Lord, “What do you want me to focus on this next year?” And He told me.
I got into the habit of doing that each year, not as a new year’s resolution, but as a way to stay pressed into Him. The topics He’s given me have varied over the years.
Sometimes it’s a character flaw He wants me to address.
Sometimes it’s a truth He wants to reveal.
Other times it’s simply a groove He wants to carve more deeply into my soul.
But I’ve found two things to be true, no matter the topic. Here's the first...I'll save the second for a "Part 2" blog later this month.
First, it’s always relevant.
I can always apply it to my lie’s circumstances. And that's the key, isn't it?
So, this is how it plays out for me...
1. Once I have a topic, I start with Scripture…
I want to understand what the Word says about the topic He’s given me. I want to know what the parameters are in which that truth operates so that I can walk it out safely and in the way He wants.
I look up relevant Scriptures and write them down in my journal. I look up different translations and even find the original Greek or Hebrew meaning of key words in a concordance to help me better understand.
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” ~Psalm 119:105
2. Then I look for other Christian resources….
It’s funny. I often don’t have to look very far to find the right resources. It’s not uncommon that they find me…a podcast I subscribe to does a series on the topic, or a friend unwittingly tells me about a new book that’s out.
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” ~Ephesians 4:11-12
3. All the while, I’m sensitive to the Holy Spirit…
I wait. I listen. I’m not in a hurry when I’m reading Scripture or listening to a podcast. I don’t want my own reasoning to become my guide.
I keep relevant Scriptures in front of me consistently throughout the year unless He leads me to a different topic along the way. I'll listen to the same podcast or sermon series multiple time if it's piercing my heart. And I don't mind reading the same pages of a book over and over if it's ministering to me.
The goal is not FAST. The goal is CHANGE. The goal is INTIMACY with Christ.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” ~Proverbs 3:5-6
4. I think about how it plays out in my life…
What is it that needs to change in my life, in my behavior or thought process, to apply this truth? God is really good at making this clear, I will tell you. The key is being intentional about incorporating it into the day-to-day routine.
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” ~James 1:22
I remember light shining so brightly on my conversations at work and with friends a few years back, revealing the extent to which my own insecurities were driving them.
Once I saw it, I could intentionally change how I interacted with people because the Lord had given me the tools to do it.
Sounds intense, huh? Not always. But it can be, depending on what He’s trying to do in that season.
What I can tell you is that it’s worth it.
It’s worth it to be close to Him.
It’s worth it to see Him moving intentionally to free you from strongholds you may not even realize you have.
To prepare and equip you for something you wouldn’t otherwise know how to handle.
I know I’m suggesting a very simple thing – to ask the Lord each year what He wants you to focus on – but I’ve found it to be a practical and powerful means of staying close to, and in-tune with, Him and where He’s taking me. It keeps me on a forward path.
And as I look back, I can see mile markers of His faithfulness along the way.
As 2017 closes, what might He want you to focus on in the coming year? Just ask Him. He’ll be faithful to tell you.
Stay tuned for “Part 2” later this month!