I love the New Year. Maybe I love it even more than some of the other Holidays. Christmas is so fun as I watch my children open packages and delight in treats like Hot Chocolate and cookies, but the New Year brings with it a new sense of hope, longing, and excitement.
I had heard about Christians who asked God to give them a “word of the year” in the past. I didn’t feel all that inclined to give it a try myself until I ordered a daily planner from Inkwell Press last December. In it there was a note from the company owner with a word on a card. Her note said that she and her cohorts had prayed over each order and randomly put words inside that she hoped would encourage the purchaser and that would give them new hope for their new year.
I stared at my word in wonder, amazement and perhaps a bit of fear. The words staring back at me on the pretty little card was: “BOLD”.
Bold? I felt anything but bold. What did it mean? Visions flashed before me as I saw myself embarking on new journeys and tackling fearful monsters with a new boldness, much like a knight in shining armor tackling the dragon without fear.
I wasn’t bold.
What could it mean?
As the year developed and unfolded before me, I thought about the word. Was I bold in my faith? Was I bold in my forgiveness? Was I bold in my introspection? Did I have to courage to look the truth in the face? Did I feel bold enough to let the LORD show me where I had been living a lie, has been superficial, or acted like a hypocrite? Was I bold enough to follow Jesus totally, no matter how it hurt or how hard it was?
I don’t think He is done working on me, but I’ve grown this year, I have become more bold in my faith; more sure, and more resolute. I have taken some chances and spoken to non-believers with openness and genuine curiosity. I have opened myself up to their questions and have allowed them to ask me things I don’t always have answers for. I have asked God the hard questions, yelled at Him in my sorrow, and have admitted my lack of strength, my weak faith, and my need for Jesus Christ to be my all. I haven’t changed the world, but I have grown and God has met me in my weakness and fear and He has indeed, given me a bit more boldness in my faith.
I didn’t ask for a new word this year. Last year was hard. Maybe this “new year, new word” thing is over rated.
But as I stood at the sink washing dishes, reflecting on the past year, a new word came into my mind with absoluteness: STUDY.
The word danced before me as the water flowed over the soapy dishes and washed them clean. Study?
Yes…study…that is my word.
Something came to mind as I considered the word. I had heard not that long ago that only 20% of Christians read their Bible regularly. I walked to the computer and googled it.
LifeWayResearch.com posted data in April of 2017 which can be found here. Their research states that only 11% of Christians have read the the whole Bible. Only 9% of Christians have read it more than once.
Conversely, 30% of professing Christians have read several passages and stories and 13% of us have only read a few sentences, while 10% of Christians have not personally read any of the Bible at all.
I was floored.
Do we even know what we believe?
If the vast majority of us haven’t read more than a few passages in the Bible, how do we know who God really is? How do we distinguish between our Jesus and a false one? How do we have conversations with unbelievers without sounding foolish? How do we grow in our faith? How do we rest assured that what we believe is actually true? How can we be sure?
How can I be sure?
I have spent endless hours studying Epilepsy, and gut health, and metal health. I have spent 100’s of hours researching vaccinations, and essential oils and autoimmune disorders. I have looked at the research on Global Warming, Global Change and Evolution. I have read thousands and thousands of words on various topics.
I spent time in theology school 15 years ago studying God’s word. But, that was 15 YEARS ago!! I feel His words are written on my heart, but I can’t tell you where it says this or that spontaneously. I can go looking for it later. You know, “Paul said this, I think…or maybe it was James…” I can tell you if something is in The Old testament or the New, but I can’t pull it up the exact words or reference immediately in my mind.
I have spent years using my brain to study things about the world, but….have I given my Savior and my God the same attention?
This is the year I go back to the One who really matters, and STUDY His words.
I don’t know what you see or want in 2018, but let me encourage you to make the living Words of God part of whatever you do. Let me encourage you to pick up your Bible and read for yourself what the Living God proclaims and may we all learn to be a bit bolder in our search for truth and a bit more inclined to see what God says for himself about who he is and what he asks of us.
“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Author: Jacqi Kambish