In early November 2019, Dan and I started talking about what our word of the year would be for 2020. This isn’t the first time we have discussed a word for the year. In fact, we have been seeking God for a word to focus on each year since late 2014, and yet this year felt different. 2019 wasn’t my most favorite year ever and I was ready for something new. One word kept coming up and I hated it. I know, hate is a strong word, but over and over the same word kept coming back up. The more I heard it, the more I hated it.
Before I tell you the word that we kept coming back to, I need to remind you that 2019 wasn’t my most favorite year ever. In fact, I was super happy to see the year come to an end. Last year, our word for the year was “confidence” and when the year ended I was sure that praying for confidence was about the worst thing you could ever pray for. I had decided since 2019 was so hard, God was probably going to give us a word like “harvest” or “joy” or maybe “dance” because this is the year that everything I was ever promised is going to happen. However, the word we kept hearing felt far from those words. Honestly, every time it came up, I rolled my eyes. I did not want this word.
In fact, when I read one of the definitions for the word we kept hearing and realized it actually includes the word confident I literally said out loud “You have to be kidding”. We have already worked on being confident. 2019 was one of the hardest years of my life. Okay, I will admit I may be being a little dramatic here. While 2019 was very disappointing it was also filled with quite a bit of growth in the secret place. (I Remain Confident) Growth that I needed and am thankful for. I found a deeper level of friendship with the Father and I learned to rely on Him more than ever before. While 2019 wasn’t all bad, I felt I had learned my lesson and I was done with it. I am so ready for something new. I am surely confident enough.
And yet, the word kept coming back over and over. Finally, one day I told one of my dearest friends “I think our word for 2020 is going to be secure, but I hate it”. What I really wanted her to say is “Oh friend, that is an awful word, I am sure God has something better. Keep praying.” I really wanted her to tell me that it was way too close to our 2019 word and we had probably misheard. I wanted her to tell me it was okay to ignore the word I had heard, and just choose something that was more fun. She didn’t. Instead, she laughed at me, told me she loved how dramatic I can be and then told me to pray into it. I am really thankful for my friend, but I can’t lie, that day I wanted to stop being her friend and find some new ones that actually supported me. Who did she think she was telling me to pray into it!?
After I threw a bit of a temper tantrum, I realized my dear friend is actually quite wise. So I took her advice. I stopped asking God for a new word, and started to ask Him what He was saying about the word He had already given us. In late December, we officially decided our word for 2020 would be “secure” and friends, it has already been such a sweet journey.
Before we go any further, we need to discuss the definition of the word “secure”. Webster’s dictionary defines the word as: “free from loss, affording safety, trustworthy and dependable, free from risk of loss, easy in mind: confident”. Safe, trustworthy, dependable, free from the risk of loss? There is a lot to unpack here, and if I am being honest, I feel like God has only begun to show me the meaning of the word.
Early in January, I read Psalm 144:1-2. It says this in the Passion Translation:
There is only one strong, safe, and secure place for me;
it’s in God alone and I love him!
He’s the one who gives me strength and skill for the battle.
He’s my shelter of love and my fortress of faith,
who wraps himself around me as a secure shield.
I hide myself in this one who subdues enemies before me.
This verse is such a sweet promise. After such a hard year, I know deep down in my bones the only safe and secure place for me is in God alone. (Confidently Imprisoned). As I have said so many times before, 2019 was so disappointing. I needed a place were I could hide. I needed to rest in a strong, safe and secure place. I needed to be be wrapped in a secure shield, hidden in Him.
However, I think sometimes we get so focused on God being the secure hiding place we forget about the strength and skills He gives us. When I read Psalms 144:1-2, I realized I have spent the last few months missing something. The second part of verse 1 says “He’s the one who gives me strength and skill for the battle”.
In Exodus 14, the Israelites were fleeing Egypt. The Pharaoh had just let God’s people go, but then he changed his mind. Pharaoh commanded his armies to go after the Israelites and get them back. Suddenly, the Israelites were stuck. The Red Sea before them, the Egyptians behind them. They must have been so disappointed looking at that sea. It appeared they had come so far, they had been rescued, only to be drug back into slavery. So the Israelites got super snarky with Moses and said this (Exodus 14:11-12 NIV):
“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Moses knew who His Father was. He had seen His Father show up big and he trusted Him. So he turned to the Israelite people and answered their snark with some of the most quoted scripture in the bible (Exodus 14:13-14 NIV):
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
We usually end the story here. We say Moses said “The Lord will fight for you, just be still” and then the Red Sea parted and the Israelites skipped across on dry ground. We talk about how the Egyptians tried to pass, but where swallowed up by the waves. We celebrate God’s goodness, and we stand still because we know God is fighting for us. It is true that the Israelites did walk on dry ground, and it is also true that the Egyptians were swallowed up by the sea BUT before that happened, there is a part of the story we often overlook.
After telling the Israelites to be still, Moses asked God what to do and God responded with this (Exodus 14:15-16 NIV):
“Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.”
I don’t know if you are seeing this, but God told Moses to move on and raise His staff. God had given Moses the tools for the battle and it was time to move. I may be reading into these six words way too much, however, I think sometimes I get so stuck being in the secret place, I forget to keep moving. I want to hide from the disappointment. I want to be still and trust, but I don’t necessarily want to gain the strength or the skills to fight. I believe we should be doing both. We can be still and trust the Father while also moving forward in strength with the skills and tools He has given us. God didn’t need Moses to raise His staff. He could have made the sea part without Moses, however God wants us active. He wants us to be a part of the story. He created us to be a part of the story.
So what tools do I have? I have spent the last several weeks thinking more about the words that God has given in the past several years. (The Year We’re Rooting For) Our first year of choosing a word of the year was 2015. We chose the word “brave”. In 2016, we chose the word “faith”. In 2017, we chose “intention”. In 2018, we chose the word “rooted”. In 2019, we chose the word “confident”.
I know these words are not accidents. God gave them to us in order on purpose. We needed to be brave before we could have big faith. We needed to learn how to be intentional before we could be rooted. Being deeply rooted in the Father, taught us we could be confident in who He says He is and what He has promised us. We had to be confident before we could stand secure. These words have been tools preparing us and now we need to use them.
I wanted a joyful word that promised breakthrough. In reality, that’s exactly what God gave me. When we are truly secure in who God is, we don’t need a word like “joy” or “harvest” to know God is going to keep His promises. In fact, we can rest securely in His promise of breakthrough because we know who He is. One of the definitions of secure is “free from risk of loss”. I mean come on! Think of all I could do if I was truly free from the risk of loss!
In a past post, I have shared some scriptures on who I believe God is. (God is NOT a Jerk) Here is what I shared:
God is faithful. Lamentations 3:22-23 says this in the NIV Translation:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
God is good. Psalm 100:5 says this in the Passion Translation:
For the Lord is always good and ready to receive you. He’s so loving that it will amaze you — so kind that it will astound you! And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all. Everyone knows our God can be trusted, for he keeps his promises to every generation!
God is forgiving. Isaiah 43:25 says this in the NIV Translation:
I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.
God is strong and all knowing. Psalm 147:5 says this in the Passion Translation:
How great is our God! There’s absolutely nothing his power cannot accomplish, and he has infinite understanding of everything.
God is a God of healing. Psalm 41:3 says this in the Passion Translation:
When they are sick, God will restore them, lying upon their bed of suffering. He will raise them up again and restore them back to health.
God is a God of restoration. 1 Peter 5:1 this in the Passion Translation:
And then, after your brief suffering, the God of all loving grace, who has called you to share in his eternal glory in Christ, will personally and powerfully restore you and make you stronger than ever. Yes, he will set you firmly in place and build you up.
God has a good plan for ME! Jeremiah 29:11 promises this in the NIV Translation:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
These verses aren’t even a tip of all that God is. Scripture paints a picture of a God who is big. A God who chases us. A God who sacrificed His only son for us. A God who calls us children. A God who gives us royal authority. A God who simply delights in us. Hebrews 6:18 says it is impossible for God to lie. He can’t be a God who promises something and then does not come through. He doesn’t do things halfway. In fact, He is a God who does abundantly more than we can imagine. (Ephesians 3:20-21).
I believe the start of 2020 marks the start of a new season. It’s time to do more than just confidently trust God is going to breakthrough. It’s time to pick up my armor and use the strength and skills I have gained in the secret place to go back to battle. It’s time to gain ground. It’s time to walk securely, with my head held high, because my God will come through for me. I know it in my bones. The best is yet to come.