Together. My word for 2024. I don’t alway do this. Looking back at last year’s post, I’m not even sure I made a resolution. But this year it came to me with enough clarity to write it down and attempt to explain it. A word as well as its accompanying vision.
Perhaps the word began to take shape in November. For the sake of telling a story I’ll start there. Rewinding to four weeks of lingering autumn, my husband a continent away, my dog and me doing life alone. Four weeks alone, and I did just fine. I assumed I was fine. I filled my days with work tasks and seminary assignments, filled my nights with church commitments and social engagements. Surprised at how easy it was, and how I rarely I felt lonely. Alone at home, filling the silence with my own thoughts and my own pursuit of God.
Kyle returned home just a couple of days before Thanksgiving and the next weekend we brought home a Christmas tree. We launched right into Advent and Anniversary and in between I made a feeble attempt to process a headful of thoughts which looking back had been accumulating for most of 2023. A year that started without resolution. A year that nearly ended in confusion. Until God showed it to me.
I’d been meditating on Ephesians 3:14-21. The passage from my Thursday evening Bible study with women at my church. The same passage the elder Anderson brothers had chosen for their posse of sons over two decades prior. An inscription on a necklace, a reference to a Bible passage—
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name…(v14)
How many times had we invoked these very words in prayer for our family? Prayers for our sons?
I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being (v16).
And here I was reaching the end of a year, repeating a familiar prayer, but this time for ME…
God strengthen ME in my inner being with the power of your Spirit.
Looking back on a year without resolution. A year without a defining word. But all along this had been my heartfelt prayer. Return of SPIRIT. My theology assuring me He hadn’t really gone away, and yet longing always for a previous season when I felt sure of His guiding presence… sure of His revelation…
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him” (Luke 11:13).
ASK. SEEK. KNOCK. (Luke 11:9)
And I do.
And then in the middle of my asking, after my month of aloneness, my weeks of thinking I’m doing okay… I hear the Spirit whisper—
Seek me together.
All these years praying “every family in heaven and on earth” scripture over my own family… Ephesians 3 for a bevy of sons… and not once… not one time in all this time have I prayed these words FOR MY HUSBAND
The last week of ’23 was nonstop Christmas. Our days of feasting stretching straight from Eve to Eve. A week of family and Jesus and savoring all this blessing established in love.*
And then it’s the New Year. Still dark on the first day, we set our alarm early for hugs and a send-off. “See you in California in just two short months.” And it’s back to just us.
Together. On New Year's Day.
We doze a bit longer, brew our coffee, say our prayers. And then we do something we’ve never (in my memory) done before.
We resolve together.
A couple of hours snuggled on the couch, fire burning, dog dozing. I grab notebook and pencil. Kyle pulls up an online resource. We reflect on a year gone by and we make notes for a year to come. We set goals—together. We make plans—together. And we commit ourselves for one more year to seeking the strength and power of the Holy Spirit.
*And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).