When I was thinking about the year ahead for our family, I knew that it would be a year of unknowns. Pretty much everything routine about our life would be turned upside down. I knew it would be a year of traveling to visit churches with a break midway to welcome the baby. But that was about all I could really count on.
As I thought about my goals for the coming year, I was a little baffled. I thrive under routine, and we were throwing that out of the window. 🙂 How could I stick to new goals when it would take everything I could do just to keep us healthy and moving forward with some sense of normalcy in the unknown ahead? So I chucked my usual elaborate outline of about fifteen specific goals of self-improvement. But I also knew the importance of moving forward in my spiritual life especially. What could I do that would challenge me without overwhelming me amidst the crazy of traveling with toddlers?
I had heard of many people choosing a word for the year. I guess you could call it a theme. One main thought that would drive you forward and affect your growth. My first thought was, “Ok…I think I can handle that.” 🙂 So I began to study and to really pray about what my word for this year would be. After all, how was I supposed to know what the year would bring? If I knew, I could pick the perfect word!! But, I knew that God was aware of what this year would bring for me. He laid the verse on my heart in 1 Peter 5:7, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” My word would be CARE.
1. God’s CARE for me.
One of the first things that came to my mind when I began to dwell on this word was just how much God cares for me at all times. It’s challenging to see it when you’re in the middle of a trial. Sometimes we begin to think that God doesn’t care. We would never say that, of course. But our behavior of worry and self-pity shows our heart and our lack of trust. The second phrase in 1 Peter 5:7 says “for he careth for you.” In this phrase, the word “careth” is translated from the Greek word melei which means “to be of interest to, to concern, to care about.” The truth is, God is interested in my little life. He is concerned about my cares. Which brings me to the next step.
2. My CARES can be cast on Him.
The first phrase in 1 Peter 5:7 says “Casting all your care upon him;” The word “care” here is translated from the Greek word Merimna which means “care, anxiety.” Anxiety…that tends to describe my feelings about the unknown! But what a comfort that I can put all of my anxieties and my worries on the Saviour. And that He wants me to! Because He knows everything that is ahead and He has it all under control. Whether or not I cast my care on Him will greatly affect my usefulness in the ministry and my attitude toward my family. Another verse that speaks of this is Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” The word “careful” in this verse also means “anxious”. Truly, there is no reason for us to be troubled and anxious! Choosing ahead of time to recognize His CARE about our CARES will affect every situation we face.
3. My CARE for others.
As I continued to think about this word and its other applications, I thought about the importance of growing in my CARE for others.
- Caring less about myself. When we are faced with uncomfortable or difficult situations, it’s way too easy to focus on our own comfort and how we can make life easier for ourselves. How can MY needs be met? How can I get through this? But those are the wrongs questions I should be asking. Some better questions are: Are my motives fueled by my desire for comfort? Am I choosing others above myself?
- Choosing to pay special attention to the needs of others. This requires listening! And sometimes it means that you will be uncomfortable for a little while longer. Some good questions to ask here are: What is one thing I can do right now to be a blessing to that person in this situation? What kind of needs might they have that they would never ask for help on? How would I want to be treated if I were in their situation?
I can honestly say that God knew exactly what I would need this year. He has already used this word to direct my thoughts and to focus my attention on Him and on others instead of myself. There have already been circumstances that have forced me to choose to see His loving care in the situation. It gets me very excited for the year ahead. Not because I think it will be easy, but because I know that I have a God who cares and who I can lean on every single day!