Word of the Year

Happy New Year

As the New Year has rolled in, I’ve noticed a new tradition emerging. Rather than vowing to lose weight or spend more time with family, many folks are choosing a theme word for their year, some kind of encouraging thought that can guide them and frame their life.










I can almost see these words on plaques or pillows that we scatter around our homes. (Hobby Lobby, anyone?) Such warm, cozy words that remind us of what we value, what we want more of in our lives.

There is one word, however, that is almost NEVER found on a pillow or plaque. You’re almost guaranteed to never hear a friend announce that she has chosen this word as the theme for her year.


Why? Why don’t we choose it as our Word of the Year? Why do we not like this word?

I think there are a couple of reasons. First, it makes us feel like a kid again…and not in a good way. We remember all the times we didn’t obey and the result was punishment. Who wants to remember that? Second, obedience often is associated with having to do something we don’t want to do because someone else says we have to do it. Translated: we are in a power struggle and we lose. Who wants that?

What would happen, though, if we discovered that this simple word—obedience—had the power to bring us so many other “theme words”? For instance, would you be willing to obey if you knew that joy was the result?

Listen to what Jesus tells us in John 15:9-11:

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Jesus gives us a very simple formula that goes like this:


Do you want joy in your life? (Of course! Who doesn’t?) Then, according to Jesus, you need to obey. Joy, that deep abiding sense of contentment and delight—even when circumstances stink—is only found when we are obedient people. And doesn’t that make sense? When we are selfishly pursuing our own interests and belittling those around us, gossiping, lying, etc, etc, we are unsettled. We can’t be at peace because we might be found out, we might have to cover our tracks to hide our sin. Obedience to Jesus, on the other hand, allows us to have a clear conscience, to know we’ve done the right thing no matter what happens. Talk about peace. Talk about joy!

So even though it won’t show up on any plaques this year, even though few of your friends will claim this word, will you join me in being people of obedience?

4 thoughts on “Word of the Year

  1. For the past few years, I’ve chosen a word for the year–create, home, intentional, and wisdom. This year, my word is REMAIN, and my focal passage is from John 15. I continue to find confirmation about this word. In the online Bible study I started last week, the first memory verse was John 15:9, the book we are using for inspiration in my art studio time has the subtitle, the art of staying put (stay being a synonym for remain). And now, you are quoting it this morning to me in your blog post. I’m finding that this year will be one where I remain in the Word and with God on a daily basis and also in other areas–remaining at home with my kids (and not seeking outside employment), remaining at the “drawing board” this year as I focus on perfecting my art skills by taking classes and practice, practice, practicing, Houston is remaining at Intel until early retirement, and we will remain in Oregon, etc. etc. etc. I’m excited to see what the upcoming year holds, but I feel very clear that no matter what happens, I am to remain where I am, in obedience to God. Thanks for your words this morning, they were just what I needed to hear!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Elizabeth! Don’t you just love it when God speaks and then reaffirms what He’s told you? So thrilled to be a part of that…and I’m cheering you on this year as you REMAIN!

  2. Great post Sarah! We were just talking about Daniel’s obedience during our Bible study yesterday so it was fitting for me to read this post today. We are using Jen Hatmaker’s book “Tune In” and she shared that our obedience prompts Him to move on our behalf and speak to us. So many people long to hear God speak and obedience is the key!
    Sending you love and hugs on your new adventure!

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