The new year is off to a rocky start. That’s the sense I’m getting from more than a few people I’ve talked to. And although I could make a gratitude list as long as my dining room table, my January didn’t start off so hot either. Feverish, maybe because by the time January rolled in I was in the middle of a week-long bout of influenza A, which kind of put a damper on staying with family in Florida, including the overnight getaway I had booked for me and the hubs as a Christmas present. On top of that, the Sunshine State wasn’t living up to its name so we decided to cut our loses and head home a day early.
On New Year’s Day, we stopped for the night at what my kids affectionately dubbed a less than two-star-smoke-infested-creeperville dump, or something of the like. Sweet mother that I am, I yelled out helpful phrases like: “You’re too SOFT!” and “Count your BLESSINGS!” and even the proverbial “Millions of people around the world don’t even HAVE running water, but we DO, so STOP COMPLAINING!”
In hindsight, maybe I shouldn’t have uttered that last platitude. Maybe God took it as some kind of dare because when Doug woke up at 3 a.m. the floor was flooded. And while sloshing through a quarter inch of icy cold water so you can shove sopping wet clothes into plastic bags and into the car to blow that 2-star popsicle stand isn’t the best cure for influenza, that’s what you do when the main water line at your Motel 6 in Chattanooga Tennessee bursts.
We made it home.
The kids went back to school, work and laundry and life resumed, and one morning as I sat on my couch thinking through the blur of the previous week and a half, the Sudafed haze finally lifting, I remembered that sometimes I choose a word to focus on for the new year. As I sat, Bible open, to the middle of Judges no less—not the cheeriest narrative to combat the gloom of January but that’s another post—I was kind of pray-pondering this whole word thing. What should I focus on? What should my word be?
One little word waved at me. I shook my head. Uh-uh. You’re not my word. But that little guy made me laugh out loud and pestered me throughout the day.
Before I go any further, I don’t think this choose-a-word-thing is HEARING THE VOICE OF GOD. He gives us his entire Word to feast on all the time, throughout the year. But I do think God can be in it. I do think he can direct our thoughts, help us to think about things we need to think about. And I do think God has a sense of humor. As does my good friend and prayer partner who, upon hearing my chosen word (or the word that fastened itself to me rather), laughed like the deranged. No actually that was me and she was kind enough to join in. She had just shared her word, which was inspirational and poetic and wooden sign worthy.
Mine not so much.
My word? H-E-L-P.
That’s it. That’s my word. Help. At least for now. Maybe this will only be a winter word. Or maybe I’ll hang on to it longer because I need to. In one sense, I don’t even like this word. I struggle with both asking for it and giving it… in the human sense. But internally, if I’m honest, I feel like I’m asking God for help all of the time. Constantly. Which has turned into a sweet, sweet thing because he gives it, so often in the form of wisdom for the moment, so very freely. There’s no limit to the help he gives. It’s not like I come to him and he looks at me and sighs and says, Really? You need help again?
This word help, at least the essence of it, is all over scripture. Everywhere you look, from the Old Testament to the New, it’s uttered by the common, by kings, by those who follow Jesus, by even Jesus himself as he beseeches the Father to “take this cup from me!” before his betrayal and death. Is that not a cry for help?
You know who isn’t asking for help? The Pharisees. The religious. The ones who think they don’t need it. People who don’t think they need help don’t ask for help.
So I’m diving in to help, hoping to examine all of its facets and angles. (When does helping become enabling? Why is the wife called a helper? Why is the Holy Spirit The Helper?) I’m going to search the scriptures and ask God to help me rightly understand help. As I go along, I’ll blog out some thoughts and I’d love it if you joined me. Until next time, two verses to chew on:
“Hear O Lord and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!” (Psalm 30:10)
“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
(Do you have a word for 2018? If so I’d love to hear it.)