New Year’s resolutions have never really been my thing. To me September always feels more like the season of new beginnings. The kids are going back to school, and we’re resuming our normal routine after the crazy and lazy days of summer. January is the middle of the long hard slog toward spring. Fall feels like the natural time to pause, look at what’s working for me and what’s not, and make changes to carry through the school year cycle.
But this year, I felt prompted to do something different. It’s become kind of a thing to choose a word as your theme for the year. This year, choosing a word for the year seemed right. So I prayed and listened, thinking that eventually the right word would come to me.
And this is what percolated up to the surface: hope.
Hope was not the word I would have chosen. I wanted something more original. More vibrant. The kind of word that people read and go “ooh! I want to choose that one!” But I couldn’t get away from the sense that this was the theme Lord had chosen for me. This will be my year to grow in hope.
We need hope because we live in the middle of the story. We inhabit the tension between promise given and promise kept, living as citizens of a kingdom that is both now and is not yet. Hope is what keeps us holding on, looking for the promised glory. We cling to hope as an anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:19).
I think hope must have been that kind of anchor for Ruth. When we read the story of Ruth, we read it already knowing the ending. We know the journey from bereft widow to joyful wife and mother. We know she finds her place in the story (Matthew 1:5). But Ruth didn’t know the ending. When she stood at the crossroads and made that extraordinary vow of faithfulness to Naomi and Naomi’s God, Ruth didn’t know she’d one day sit next to her husband with a baby on her knee. Through the long journey into an uncertain future, Ruth walked next to Naomi. Day after day she worked in harvest fields, gleaning survival for herself and the mother-in-law she had vowed to cherish. God’s hesed, covenant love, flowed through her, and God rewarded her for her faithfulness.
What kept her going? What made her keep putting one foot in front of the other down the dusty road as she walked away from everything she knew? What held her up through the days and weeks of gleaning, during the nights she laid alone on her bed and dawn seemed so far away? I believe it was this: the belief that the God she clung to would not fail. It was a hope that did not disappoint (Romans 5:5).
We need that hope. Hope that God told us to pray “your kingdom come, your will be done” for a reason. Hope that a divine promise made is a divine promise kept. Hope that we can live in all the power and victory the New Testament promises. Hope that the God who loved us and chose us first will never let us down. It’s that kind of hope that becomes our soul anchor, keeping us off the crushing rocks of despair and doubt.
My soul needs that anchor. May this be my year to grow in hope.
What is your theme for the year?
Like this post? Subscribe to get updates by e-mail.by