I’m all about fresh starts, new days and Monday mornings. So, give me a holiday to celebrate a new year, and I’m there.
After an evening of fun, games and good food with people I’ve come to love, on this first day of January (a Monday, no less!) I’m ready to step into 2018. But today, I’m dipping a toe in the water of this new year with a bit of caution, because I have a sense that God is up to something in my life.
My toe-dipping begins with finally settling on my “one word” for 2018 — cultivate.
I’ve been praying and reading, expecting God to drop a word into my lap, but as of midnight December 31, nothing. This morning, while reading Teach Us to Want by Jen Pollock Michel, I thought I’d found it — grace. A good word, a beautiful word and a precious gift I want to walk in, receive and bestow. But, grace didn’t quite fit when I reflected on the terrain I’ve traveled in 2017. There were challenges in my family, but many blessings, too. I saw and continue to see God’s grace in all of it.
The thing that caused me to embrace cultivate as a directive for 2018 has more to do with what’s been stirring in me as I watch God draw on my passions — writing and discipleship. God laid some interesting things on me over the past year, poking and prodding and giving me a vision for a season I never expected at this late moment — smack dab in the middle of my seventh decade!
2017 was a year to surrender; 2018 is my time to cultivate.
The word came through the writings of an online friend, an ex-pat pastoring a church in Paris, France. It’s her word, too. I really don’t think she’ll mind sharing, because for each of us, this one word will have different meanings and outcomes.
I’m married to a guy who grew up farming, so I know the agronomist’s meaning for the word cultivate — to develop land for growing. But there’s more. An online thesaurus gave me these:
Nourish. Nurture. Enrich. Refine.
Last year, God gave me the gift of a personal encounter with a godly woman who demonstrates what it means to cultivate a vision and a life surrendered to God, to nourish, nurture, enrich, refine.
Go where you’re sent.
Stay where you’re put.
Give what you’ve got.
~ Jill Briscoe
The list of synonyms for “cultivate” is long. I’ll rest in them and roll them around on my tongue over the next few days. For now, I’m holding this word in my hand as a gift and a challenge. I’m excited to see where it takes me in the coming year. No doubt, I’ll share what I find with you.
(By the way, I highly recommend Jen Pollock Michel’s book, Teach Us to Want. It’s dense with thought-provoking discussion on our “story of want — desires unmet, hopes dashed, passions pursued and ambitions fulfilled”. I expect to move slowly through this book, which was Christianity Today’s 2015 Book of the Year.)