I’ve never been much into resolutions, for all the normal reasons you hear resolutions maligned. Mainly, though, I get too ambitious, create a massive to-do list for myself, and by March I’m so behind and so overwhelmed that I give up, defeated and discouraged. I’ve found more success (and real life change) in picking a word for the year. The first time I did this it changed my life in the best and hardest ways. The next year was absolutely “meh.” Last year I picked a word, but discovered by the end of the year that an entirely different word had picked me. Go figure.
My word for this year is kingdom.
Does that sound as weird to you as it sounded to me? The word came to me unexpectedly while driving to Asheville in December. I think my response was “Huh?” It seems such a large and unwieldly concept. I’m used to “words of the year” being intimate and personal. Character qualities. Things you want to embrace or experience. Changes you would like to make. Even things about God you want to know more clearly. But “kingdom” seems broad. And a bit pompous. And, well, weird.
I don’t know if you’ve had an experience of “hearing” God speak to you. For me it’s not an audible thing, no blinding light or angel music. It’s usually a thought that stirs something deep within me, as if heart, mind, body and soul are suddenly all in agreement, listening intently. I’ve come to pay close attention to these moments. At the same time, I know I am quite capable of being led astray by my own emotions or desires or whims so I follow it with more listening: prayer, searching scriptures, talking it through with wise friends. Does this line up with other things God has said or is doing? Was this Him talking or my own active imagination?
So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past month. I can’t shake the word. I also can’t seem to get around it’s awkwardness. But I’m going to roll with it – because, well, if it’s good enough for God and all. The main passage that I have been meditating on is Matthew 6:9-10. Jesus is teaching His followers how to pray:
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
I’m blown away when I really stop to think about this. We are to be praying that God’s will is done here just like it is in heaven. It’s easy when faced with this broken, chaotic, ugly, fallen world to think that His kingdom is “out there,” when we get to heaven and sin is no more. This is true, and we won’t see His kingdom in all it’s full glory until He returns. But Jesus told to pray for His kingdom to happen here and now, too. I think that also implies we are supposed to do kingdom work – because if you are truly praying for something to happen, and it lines up with what God desires, then He is going to give you a chance to be part of His answer. And, y’all, isn’t this so beautifully full of hope and goodness? We don’t have to just slog through and endure this terrible world. Jesus is actively and intentionally seeking to make His kingdom manifest here. It is these glimpses of His goodness and glory and love and grace that draws people to Him. And it gives us a taste of what’s to come, a future with Him that is so breathtakingly glorious that it in turn spurs us to make His kingdom more evident even now.
For the next year I’m going to see what this word “kingdom” is all about. What does His kingdom look like, both here and now and eternally? How do I further or hinder His kingdom work? How does this change how I live and how I engage those around me? I’m already learning some things. Right now God seems to be showing me all of the dark, broken places that desperately need His kingdom to come – and frankly I’m feeling overwhelmed. I also sense that He is going to shatter some of my ideas about church, how to love and live in this broken world, what my priorities should be, and all kinds of other things I hold dear. It should be fun! (haha)