In the early days of a new year, we give pause to possibilities of what’s ahead. Besides gym memberships, weight loss programs, and aspirations to spend more time with family, we could use a word of encouragement to move us forward. Debbie Macomber‘s One Perfect Word gives a strong case for choosing one word for the whole year. A word to dissect, and meditate on, and to make real in both our thoughts and walks of life. One Perfect Word. For the year.
This year, after praying and meditating, I chose the word “wonder”. The definition of this word is to be awe-inspired, to marvel, and to be surprised, even astonished. My little grandchildren have taught me great lessons on wonder as so much around them seems miraculous…and it truly is, when you think about it.
Instead of filling my thoughts and speech on the brokenness of this world, I will choose to wonder at the beauty around us, even in the hard. Wonder won’t be at the expense of responding to those in need, but I will study on how to see the wonder. For example, the wonder of a God who is both merciful and just. The wonder that we can actually come alongside someone and be a help…that we can forgive an offense…that we can give hope in a seemingly hopeless situation.
How does one decide on a word to cover a whole year? It might be an intentional decision or completely serendipitous? For me, it was through thinking of what might be lacking in my life and asking God to confirm. I thought the word would be perseverance, but in prayer and a series of rapid-fire circumstances, the word “wonder” came into focus. It seemed I would hear or see the word everywhere.
In the next few days, a friend and I will be studying Tyler Staton‘s book Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools: An Invitation to the Wonder and Mystery of Prayer. Another example is how during this Christmas season, the song I Wonder as I Wander stayed with me for days.
Christmas itself saturates us with wonder as we look deeply into what happened with the birth of Christ. What it must have been like for Mary when she realized the full weight of the Angel’s message to her of bearing the Messiah! For the lowly shepherds being the first to receive the good news of his birth. For us having the incredible invitation to be restored to an eternal relationship with the Lord! Whew!
In “O Little Town of Bethlehem” we sing, “O holy child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray; cast out our sin, and enter in, be born in us today.” It’s a bold image, but quite right. Every Christian is like Mary. Everyone who puts faith in Christ receives, by the Holy Spirit, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27, emphasis mine). We should be just as shocked that God would give us—with all our smallness and flaws—such a mighty gift. And so no Christian should ever be far from this astonishment that “I, I of all people, should be loved and embraced by his grace!” I would go so far as to say that this perennial note of surprise is a mark of anyone who understands the essence of the Gospel. What is Christianity? If you think Christianity is mainly going to church, believing a certain creed, and living a certain kind of life, then there will be no note of wonder and surprise about the fact that you are a believer. If someone asks you, “Are you a Christian?” you will say, “Of course I am! It’s hard work but I’m doing it. Why do you ask?” Christianity is, in this view, something done by you—and so there’s no astonishment about being a Christian. However, if Christianity is something done for you, and to you, and in you, then there is a constant note of surprise and wonder. John Newton wrote the following hymn: Let us love and sing and wonder, Let us praise the Savior’s name. He has hushed the law’s loud thunder, He has quenched Mount Sinai’s flame. He has washed us with his blood He has brought us nigh to God. See where the love and wonder comes from—because he has done all this and brought us to himself. He has done it. So if someone asks you if you are a Christian, you should not say, “Of course!” There should be no “of course-ness” about it. It would be more appropriate to say, “Yes, I am, and that’s a miracle. Me! A Christian! Who would have ever thought it? Yet he did it, and I’m his.” ― Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas: the Surprising Truth Behind the Birth of Christ
I’m thinking God is preparing me for a year full of wonder…with eyes fixed on Him.
How about you? Is there a word…one perfect word you would desire as a focus in 2023?
Photo Credit: He Reads Truth