By: Christi Grimm
Several years ago, I was introduced to the “Word of the Year” exercise. I have been grateful for this as it has brought much focus and strategic goal planning for my upcoming year. Choosing a Word of the Year is, for me, an exercise of asking God if there is a specific area He desires me to focus on for the year, diving into scripture, and following where I sense the Lord leading me. It is remarkable how God so readily gives me a word or phrase when I have asked this question! And it never ceases to amaze me at the end of the year when I am reading back through my journals, all the ways that word or phrase was highlighted during the year!
In 2017 my Word of the Year was OBEY. I must admit, I felt a sense of dread when He revealed this word to me. There were numerous areas where God asked me to obey that year, one of which I found unusually difficult. There were times of obedience and victory, but there were more times of fear and disobedience in this area. God was as patient, gentle, and loving as ever, yet I still chose my stubbornness and fear over His Good plans. The two years that followed included words that divinely related to obedience. Because without obedience to our Savior, we cannot move forward. I knew He was still asking me to obey in this area, yet I still chose to remain stubborn and fearful. Disobedience always has a consequence, just as obedience does.
2019 brought much reflection on my relationship with Jesus. He suddenly seemed quiet. “Where are You?”, I wondered. “Why does my relationship with You seem so flat?” I was still a student of His Word, yet the Living Water didn’t seem so alive anymore. My relationship with Him was not coming as easily as it had before. This caused me to stop and ask God and myself “why?” In His Faithful style, God showed me.
True obedience is grounded in Love. In John 14:23 Jesus taught that “anyone who loves Me will obey.” There is a reason He ordered it that way: love causes obedience. Obedience does not necessarily cause love. True obedience is a reflection of the heart; it is more than robotic actions. Others may see obedient behaviors, but only God can see an obedient heart. I can force my flesh into submission, but it does not mean my heart is in an obedient posture. If I only focus on my flesh, I become nothing more than a Pharisee: a hypocrite. The only way to walk in true obedience is to love God. The deeper and deeper I fall in love with my Savior, the more obedience will follow. Obedience, in this way, becomes an overflow of my love of the Father. The more of His love I receive, the more I am able to love Him. (1 John 4:19) The more I love Him, the more I will walk in humble obedience to Him.
If obedience is grounded in love, and I am struggling to be obedient in a particular area, it stands to reason that the answer is to love God more! Sounds simple, but we are fallen creatures and to love God more means I will need to deny myself more. “If any of you want to walk My path, you’re going to have to deny yourself. You’ll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk then you’ll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for my sake then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full.” (Luke 9:23-24). Am I willing to deny myself? Deny my fears, discomforts, and ease of life? Am I willing to do difficult things for the sake of love and ultimately obedience? I was not willing for 3 years. And that unwillingness hindered me. My relationship with the Father can only go so deep with limited obedience. When I choose complete obedience – both in behavior AND in my heart, our relationship can deepen and grow again. I asked my Savior “where are You?” He answered, “Where are YOU?” I felt I was in the garden taking up residence with my sister Eve. Hiding out of fear, a lack of trust, and ultimately a lack of love for my Father. I desire to love Him “with all my heart, all my soul, all my strength, and all my mind.” (Luke 10:27) Our desires are good but I am finding that sometimes, in my stubbornness, I need the experience of consequences to help me over the hump of desire and into the path of deeper love and passion and ultimately obedience. In this way, even the unpleasant consequences are a gift from the Father. God’s presence has seemed so distant, yet He hasn’t moved at all. He stands still, ever-present, and ready to move forward when I simply choose to obey – both in action and in sincerity of heart.
Years ago, I heard a beloved pastor speak on obedience. God hid his words in my heart for such a time as this and one particular quote plays through my mind on repeat. “God doesn’t ‘fail’ you in a course. He simply re-enrolls you!” I have been re-enrolled in this obedience course! I plan on being victorious this time! So, my “Word for the Year, 2020?” I am sure you guessed it: OBEY.
Christi is a fifth generation Florida girl who loves the sand, the sea, and the sunshine! When she is not busy mothering her 6 children, she enjoys her garden, traveling, experiencing new cultures, and indulging in warm chocolate chip cookies while reading a good book or journaling. Christi is passionate about bringing women alongside her into a life of freedom in Christ, and does so by leading Beauty for Ashes Women’s Retreats.