Words. Letters strung together in tiny groups, shaping clusters. And then what? The miraculous. Like heart cells, words connect and find purpose, and suddenly life beats. Where there was nothing, there is life.
Like so many other people around the world choosing words in languages and dialects as varied as our homes, I choose a word and a verse each new year. They serve like a blaze on the trail.
Last year my word was new. The Lord shared consistently and clearly that He was about to do a new thing. Did I see it? Many new things. And I found myself in the uncharted—in places where footing became loose gravel and handholds stretched the soul. And the vistas? Oh, panoramas of the unexplored!
“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 HCSB
As the new year drew close, prayed over a new vision, a new word. The answer on my heart was near. Near as in transparent. Near as in seeking to understand. Near as in, “Let me journey with you.” Near as in, at His hem. Near. Nearness is comforting to me. The abiding with someone who allows you to breathe shared breath. The Scripture laid on my heart was not the comforting connotation I have of nearness; indeed it was uncomfortable.
“Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.” John 15:2 HCSB
The idea of being pruned caused me to yearn for my new. And then I understood that new wasn’t to be set down. But near was to be drawn close alongside all that was new… so that the all that was new could flourish.
“If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:10-11 HCSB
We experience seasons when we are near to new. When the fragrance of change is on the wind. When dreams that were once seed begin to emerge from the ground, and the tiniest bud swells. New.
Other times we are new to near. Transparency is harder for some than others, but it’s an intentional choice of picking up others and laying aside ourselves each new morning, each hour. In this world so resistant to abiding, to loving, our hearts become conditioned to safeguards. We think we are preserved in our own defenses. Oh, but on that island we wither. We are created thirsting for the raw honesty and trust grown out of an availability and investment in truest intimacy. In the close we grow. Near.
New. Near. They are life. They are growth.
New and near challenge. Without them, there is no growth, but void, an emptiness waiting to be filled. God calls us to step in faith. To step in faith, we must embrace new. To step along the path we’ve worn smooth of or own accord requires no faith and no growth. To step in faith, we must draw near—near to His hem and near to the hearts He calls us to serve, to love, to abide.
Near. New. Heart cells. The pulse of the Great Commission.