Stillness. That’s my word for the year. For the past six weeks God has been after me to rest, recharge, and renew. I’ve studied Biblical rest using a Hebrew and Greek word study (thank you, Sharla Fritz, who created a rest study I can fully recommend!!), read a book called Sacred Rest by Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, and shifted some habits so I can sleep better, connect more, and use more wisely the hours God gives me on this earth.
Although my word is stillness, I have big plans this year. Six fiction book releases. Six more fiction books on the drawing board so I’ll have things to release in 2025. A seven-book fiction series of novellas that are more experimental than anything else because I like the challenge. A blog to renew. A nonfiction book to publish, maybe one of the most important publications of my life.
It’s busy. It’s too busy. On my own I can’t do it. I’m not disciplined enough. I’m not smart enough. I spent last year striving too much and know I cannot do all this on my own.
That’s where stillness comes in. I was never meant to do it on my own. Not anything. I owe God for every molecule of oxygen in the air, every drop of rain to hit the ground, and every bit of harvested food that makes it to my kitchen. He upholds it all.
My role in this? Well, I have a lot of responsibilities, but they all start with being still and listening for God before I jump ahead and make things difficult. This year, that’s what I mean to do.
I usually choose a verse and a word together. The word still has so many awesome verses that can go with it. I chose the most obvious, Psalm 46:10: He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
The context of that verse is a whole Psalm about God’s protection. In a world of raging nations and war and uncertainty, God is my fortress. I need to be still and let him work.
Another verse that speaks to me is Psalm 23:2, which speaks of God leading his lambs to still waters. Some say quiet waters. What makes this important is that sheep aren’t smart, and thirsty sheep sometimes find themselves swept away by fast-moving water. But our shepherd leads us to slow-moving, safe water.
How about a verse about God stilling not me but the world around me? I like Psalm 107, where the Psalmist speaks of merchants at sea in a storm who call to God in their distress. Verses 29 and 30 say this: He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven.
I love that. The world is a raging sea, a tempest of turmoil, but I don’t have to engage. I don’t have to fix it. I only have to do what God lays out before me. I have to be still and wait for him to let me know what to do and where.
I added two more words this year, too. One is wisdom. With my stillness, with my waiting, I hope to see wisdom grow. I will only know what God wants if I call to him and read his Word and pray for understanding. Those should lead to wisdom.
Then finally wonder. I missed out on wonder last year. I spent too much time striving, trying to do everything, running ahead and wasting time. I never looked around. I had few adventures and didn’t experience God’s wonder.
I mean, I live in a beautiful location in the country. I can experience the wonder of God twice a day as I look out the window at sunrise and sunset, and yet I didn’t do that.
This year, as I wait and listen, as I grow in wisdom and stop thrashing in the waves like the angry nations, I will have more time to experience God’s presence and his wonder.
I’ve even put that in my schedule, including it with some habits I hope will keep me closer to my goals this year. It’s called Fun Fridays. Friday afternoon I will go out to see new places. Or I’ll work on hobbies. Once a month I’ll take my Bible to a coffee shop and simply let God talk to me. Time to get back the wonder of a God so big he could make a world and yet so loving that he filled that world with things to take my breath away.
I hope to sing with Moses in Exodus 15:11 Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?
Habits over resolutions
I don’t exactly have new year’s resolutions this year. I do have some new habits and hopes. I have a beautiful new notebook in which I’ve been holding a business meeting with God every morning. It’s filling with prayers and questions and hopes and concerns about my writing business.
I have a morning routine and an evening routine meant to help me sleep better and use my waking hours better.
I have fun Fridays and plans to expand my connections with my family and friends more.
But none of those plans are set in stone. First I will be still, always still, waiting for the green light so I won’t waste time and effort running the wrong way. Then I will work toward wisdom, learning more about God daily. And I will look for God’s glory and wonders along the way, seeking his presence and joy.
I think that might be most important. The world is darker now than it was yesterday, and people lose hope. Jesus brings hope and joy. Following him means seeing wonders and knowing tender love. If I want to reach the world right now, it won’t be with panic or cynicism.
No, it will be with calm stillness, gentle wisdom, and leading people to experience joy and laughter and wonder.
Do you have a word or a verse this year? Or two or three? I’d love for you to share them below.