Brad frequently says I have a more direct line to God than he does. I’m not exactly sure why he makes that assertion, but it could be because God speaks to me in very unusual ways. Very recently He spoke to me through the head football coach at Ohio State.
Now before any of you start getting overly concerned for my mental well-being or maybe just plain freaked out by me, let me explain.
For the past six years, I have had a word for the year. Just one word. I don’t exactly remember how or why I started doing this, but in 2008, I did. The word for 2008 was reveal, and it was born out of the prayer of my heart. You see, we buried my precious Papa on Christmas Eve of 2007, and his wife of 74 years – my Granny – was lost without him. And so I began praying for the one thing I wanted more than anything else. I wanted God to show me how to minister to my sweet Granny. Reveal, God, please.
And since then, each year God has given me a word. And each year the word comes to me in an unusual way. And each year there is a story with the word. Well, actually there are lots of stories as God weaves the word into the tapestry of my life throughout the year. Sometimes in the most beautiful ways, yet there are painful ways, too.
The word for 2010 came through my pastor in his first sermon of the new year. In 2012, the word came through Brad as we were exiting the Christmas music celebration at Homestead Heritage. But 2014 is the strangest yet. It came from Urban Meyer. During the Ohio State versus Michigan State football game.
Oddly enough, I don’t watch college football. Not even my alma mater, Baylor, which is playing in their first BCS bowl as I type this post. I don’t even know what the score is. I didn’t watch the Ohio State game that day either, but I happened to be warming myself in front of the fireplace while the pre-game show was on. The announcer was interviewing Coach Meyer and some of the players. Coach Meyer explained the team had a theme for the 2013 season: The chase is on! The theme was chosen after the team received a bowl ban in 2012. Since then, he said, the chase for a national championship has been on, and not only is the team chasing a national title, but each player on the team is also chasing something. As soon as I heard the word chase, I looked at Brad and said, “That’s it. That’s my word for 2014.” And while those words might sound more than a little weird to many husbands, Brad just nodded his head and smiled. He knows God speaks to me in unusual ways. This wasn’t the first time.
Warm or not, I immediately had to go upstairs to my quiet place, get on my knees, and once again thank God for the intimate way He desires to communicate with each of us and to thank Him for helping me hear clearly that day.
You see, I’d already been talking with God that morning as I prepared my Sunday school lesson for December 22. It was on Luke 1:26-56. Through His Word, I’d already discovered three words:
- Change: Mary was about to experience the biggest change in her life. An unexpected change. An uncertain change.
- Challenges: Being the mother of Jesus meant more challenges than Mary could possible know at the time Gabriel delivered the news. I can only imagine how her head must have been spinning with what ifs and hows and whys.
- Choice: God picked Mary, and she was faced with the most amazing choice. And without hesitation, she said yes! “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (verse 38)
My mind raced as I thought of these three gifts God gave to Mary. Gifts. Now isn’t that the craziest thing. I saw them as gifts.
You can be certain of one thing. I’m no different than the next person. Change and challenges and difficult choices haven’t always been gifts. In fact, more often than not, I’ve stared those things in the face and done nothing but question God… or complain… or run scared… or try to negotiate with Him… or just flat ignore Him. I had rarely seen those things as gifts, but that day He showed me they are.
Change… Praise God! He is not going to leave me the way He found me.
Challenges… Praise God! He keeps me desperate for Him so I don’t manage to get too full of myself.
Choice… Praise God! He gives me an opportunity to be involved in His work.
Change. Challenges. Choice. Without a doubt, gifts. Maybe not always wrapped pretty with a bow on top, but beautiful gifts nonetheless.
As I wrapped (no pun intended!) up my quiet time that morning, I prayed, “God, please help me see change and challenges and choices as gifts. Help me to want You with all of my heart. Help me to never hold back anything from you. Help me to pursue You with everything I am and everything I have.”
So it was absolutely no small wonder when just a few short hours later… when I heard Urban Meyer say chase… that I knew with all my heart that was my word.
CHange. CHallenges. CHoice. CHASE!
Sweet mercy! Not only a word, but alliteration, too.
And so it is that I begin 2014. I am determined to chase after Him with all I am. “I’m not saying that I have this altogether, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ who has so wonderfully reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong. By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward – to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.” (Philippians 3:12-14 MSG)
Yep. That about sums it up. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back. To remind me of the chase, I’m going to take a picture of my feet on the first day of each month. Here is today. January 1. I have my work boots on.
I’ve been busy gearing up for the chase. Thirteen journals for 2014 ready to go. Yes, I know there are only 12 months, but I’ll need an extra one for my trip back to Romania in February.
And even though I was born in Ohio and am a Buckeye by birth, I’m going to catch what I’m chasing this year! Thank you, Jesus!