Back in 1990 Allan Metcalf, a professor at MacMurry College, came up with the idea of a “Word of the Year”. In a nut shell, as he reflected on Time Magazine having a “Person of the Year”, he only thought it fair and fun to have a word that would encapsulate each year, as well. Bushlips was the choice made back in 1990…a sad choice, in my opinion, as it mocked the current president, George Bush. But the idea stuck and has spread not only in the secular sphere but even into our personal lives, too. Most people do not pick a word looking back, but one for the coming year. It may be a word that helps them keep fixed on a goal or is a desire being pursued. It may be a word that helps bring focus in the midst of confusion or remind of hope in the midst of chaos. Ultimately, for the believer, all of our words must find their beginning and end in the Word: Jesus Christ. But I still see the “fun” and even helpfulness in a word, a goal, or a disciplined focus as we enter a new year; and I propose two words, instead of just one:
I first heard these words when reading Paul Tripp’s marriage book, What Did You Expect?, and though he used them as he shared thoughts about marriage, I believe they are words we need to take to heart for every area of our lives. They seem a fitting description of 2020 and a needed encouragement as we step into this new year…but don’t take my word for it…read Paul’s explanation for yourself:
“I really do think that there are moments in our marriages when we are crying out for grace, not recognizing that we are getting it. We are not getting the grace of relief or the grace of release, because that is not the grace that we really need. No, what we are getting is something we desperately need, the uncomfortable grace of personal growth and change. With the love of a Father, your Lord is prying open your hands so that you will let go of things that have come to rule your heart but will never satisfy you. With the insight of a seasoned teacher, He is driving you to question your own wisdom so that you will find your understanding and rest in His. With the skill of the world’s best counselor, God is showing you the delusions of your control so that you will take comfort in His rule. With the gentleness of a faithful friend He is facing you toward your inadequacies of your own righteousness so that you find your hope in His.”
It’s what we have already received and it’s what we will continue to receive so that we might best grow up into Him who is the Head, Jesus Christ. God knows how often we are quick to desire comfort and ease more than the desire to be holy, to be like Him and how easy it is to want to run from trials and give up when the hard weighs heavy. I am so thankful that He promises His goodness and faithful love will chase after us all of our days (Psalm 23:6). Through His Word and the Holy Spirit, I pray that God would give us eyes to see all of life through the lens of His goodness and faithful love and help us behold and worship Him in the minutes, hours and days that make up our lives. Only then will we truly be able to rejoice in His grace…even His uncomfortable grace.
“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:1-5