In 2021 my friend Gill first spoke about her ‘word for the year’ and I was a little envious. I wanted one too! But how was I to find one? Gill’s answer was simple – ask God. And so I did. I was a little surprised to have two meaningful words emerge—steady and magnify. They cropped up in sermons, discussions and songs, and became both a compass and an anchor as I navigated a tumultuous year.
In 2022, God gave me another two words that called me deeper with him: listen and entrust. These words drew me away from the bustle and noise of my life, to a place where I could hear the whispers of God, of my own heart and of those around me. They further invited me to leave all my concerns with him.
I’ve been eagerly waiting for my word (or two!) for 2023, but nothing has come. In December I was praying with the lovely Lectio 365 app, when something surprising happened. Instead of a word, a simple, sweet picture came to my mind: a girl dancing on her father’s feet.
What a gift this picture has been to me. If there’s one thing I can say about 2023, it’s that it’s a particularly busy year for me. In the next two months I am organising a retreat, a writing workshop and joining a Prayer Room team. I’m also part of the planning committee for LittAfrica, a large publishing conference to be held in Zambia later this year. That’s just the big demands in between the little ones, such as finishing the writing of my current novel.
I’m not good at juggling too many things at a time. Inevitably, I end up lying awake at night worrying about the next day.
That’s when my picture for the year steadies and soothes me. I realise that I simply cannot do all these things in my own strength but if I stay close to God—like a daughter perched on her father’s feet—he can direct my steps. The picture reminds me that the only way I’m going to get through the year is by dancing, one step at a time, with my Father.
As is often the case with one of God’s gifts, there is not only a promise but also a challenge in this image. The promise is that God will lead the dance. The challenge is that I have to stay closer to him than I ever have before.
I’ll be honest, I’ve already fallen off his feet a few times. But my dance partner is particularly gentle. Like any good father, he waits patiently for me to clamber back on his feet, encircles me in his arms, and leads me once more to the joyful rhythms of His grace.
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
Do you have a word or a picture to carry into your year?