There is something about a new year and the turning of a calendar that gives me a sense of hope. I don’t think the world as a whole will suddenly change overnight. But I am reminded that God unfolds His plans slowly and steadily. He isn’t in a hurry like most of us are. He isn’t as concerned with an end goal as much as the process.
I spent the last few days of 2020 thinking about what my word for this year would be and what God might want to do in and through me. Without fail, our faithful God repeatedly confirmed the word through sermons, a podcast, and in worship. The word was consecrate.
To consecrate means to make or declare something sacred or to dedicate something formally to a religious or divine purpose. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the word, but after talking with some trusted older women in my life, I knew it was the right word. It’s the word I need for this year.
In 2020, I didn’t experience the same kind of pain or trauma as the vast majority of the world did. I had a great deal of normalcy with some minor inconveniences. The hard season I walked through much of last year had nothing to do with the pandemic. I wholeheartedly believe God wanted me to return to close communion with Him without all the distractions of the world, and I know I didn’t do a good job of that. Any of the extra free time I had I quickly occupied with TV shows and movies and friends and even church activities.
With my word for the year, I believe the Lord is giving me another chance. It will be my choice to engage in a deeper fellowship with Him. There are a million and one things in the world that I can’t control, but what I can control is where I place my faith, hope, and trust.
My word comes from Isaiah 44. In this chapter God speaks a spiritual blessing over Israel and reminds them of His preeminence and His promise of restoration.
And like Israel, in Christ, we are consecrated unto Him and set apart for His glorious purposes. In Him, we belong to the Lord.
This one will say, ‘I am the Lord’s’;
another will use the name of Jacob;
still another will write on his hand, ‘The Lord’s,’
and take on the name of Israel.”
Isaiah 44:5 (CSB)
We live in this world but are not of it. If nothing else, 2020 reminded me that I am a citizen of heaven. When all of this temporary and fleeting existence around me passes away, I will still be here. You will still be here. We will live with the Lord for all eternity. My hope should never rest in what is seen. My hope is literally the man Christ Jesus. And He is your hope as well. He never changes. He is faithful forever and always. We are His, bought with His precious blood, and sealed into covenant with Him until the day of redemption.
He feeds on ashes.
His deceived mind has led him astray,
and he cannot rescue himself,
or say, “Isn’t there a lie in my right hand?”
Remember these things, Jacob,
and Israel, for you are my servant;
I formed you, you are my servant;
Israel, you will never be forgotten by me.
I have swept away your transgressions like a cloud,
and your sins like a mist.
Return to me,
for I have redeemed you.
Isaiah 44:20-22 (CSB)
Too often I am fooled into believing something or someone else can be my savior. I look to friends or leaders. I look to positions or titles. I look to wealth and accumulating possessions. I may even look to political parties and candidates. Sadly, I even look to myself for all of the answers. All of those things in my life are a shaky foundation, because Christ alone can be my Savior — and yours too.
Before the foundations of the world, God had the intention to form us in our mother’s womb, forgive our sins, and restore relationship with Himself. That plan has stood the test of time because it’s His Word. His Word always goes forth and accomplishes its purpose. It never returns void.
Perhaps more than ever before, we can see our need for a Savior. We will never find salvation in earthly people or things. Our only hope is Jesus. Our salvation lies in His death and resurrection, and our restoration is guaranteed through the continuing work of the Holy Spirit.
. . . who says to Jerusalem, “She will be inhabited,”
and to the cities of Judah, “They will be rebuilt,”
and I will restore her ruins.
Isaiah 44:26 (CSB)
God is in the restoration business. It’s just one of the many things He does best. When we sin, when we miss the mark, the Father is always waiting with arms wide open for us to return to Him. That is what I am going to do this year. I’m returning to solitude and lingering in His presence, to diving deep into Scripture and listening for His still small voice.
Last year, I let other voices including my own grow louder than the voice of the Holy Spirit. I drifted away from fellowship with Him into the arms of other loves. But each new day brings new mercy. I pray that this year is marked by considerable time spent with our eyes locked on the One who sees us. He is where we find our identity, forgiveness, redemption, and hope.