I stopped New Year’s resolutions several years ago. I realized that I always needed to be striving to improve in my walk with the Lord and other areas of my life all throughout the year, not just in January. At that time, a new trend was starting where people would pick a word that they focused on for that year. I observed this for a few years and then I started to notice that the Lord was leading me through a year with a particular focus. For example, one year it was the area of rest and then another was with being content. So I began asking the Lord what He would have me to focus on in the coming year. Some of my “one words” have been prayer, diligence, renewal and abide. Last year’s word was ‘hope.’ In Psalm 71:5 we read, “For thou art my hope, O Lord God: thou art my trust from my youth.” In A Spectacle of Glory, Joni Eareckson Tada says, “These are the words of someone who has passed through dark places, challenging mountain ascents, and slippery trails with uneven footing. And yet he is able to say, ‘My hope is as steady as ever—not because of my life circumstances, but because of the God who holds me in His firm grip. I have all kinds of confidence, but none of it is in myself.’ Christian hope has an object of its focus, and it is God himself, the God who has revealed Himself in the Bible. To hope in God is to not feel consumed by difficult life challenges, because you know His mercies and compassion are fresh every day. To hope in God is to have confidence that one day when Christ returns, He will close the curtain on sin, Satan, and suffering and will make all things right.” It was and still is my prayer to hope in the faithfulness of my God as I face the daily trials and struggles in my life.
This year, my word is ‘abound.’ Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” Last year, the Lord taught me about having hope in Him in every area of my life. This year, He wants me to abound (or overflow) in that hope! In doing that, it will carry over into the work that He has called me to. I Corinthians 15:58 says, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Japan is a hard place to minister. The fruit for your labor is relatively small compared to other parts of the world. I can still abound in the work of the Lord and my labors are not in vain even if I don’t see immediate fruit. We don’t usually see that immediate fruit and it can be discouraging, but we need to keep pressing on. As I prepare to return to Japan, I know some of the challenges that I will face culturally, relationally and with communication. I know some of the struggles that will be there even in the first few days. I also know the truth of 2 Corinthians 9:8, “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:” It is my prayer that the Lord will continue to use me and that through His overflowing grace I will abound in every good work!