This is my first time getting on board with the idea of choosing one word to focus on for the new year. What to choose??? First, it was helpful to look back at the past few years to sum them up with some descriptive words, to bring a sense of continuity.
Looking ahead for 2016, I’ve chosen the word “renew”.
Consider the original Greek word used for renew in the New Testament:
anakainosis: renovation. It means “a renewal” and is used in Romans 12:2 “the renewing (of your mind),” i.e, the adjustment of the moral and spiritual vision and thinking to the mind of God, which is designed to have a transforming effect upon the life; and stresses the willing response on the part of the believer. In Titus 3:5, “the renewing of the Holy Spirit” is not a fresh bestowment of the Spirit, but a revival of His power, developing the Christian life, stressing the continual operation of the indwelling Spirit of God.
(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, pg. 20 of the Greek dictionary, #342)
God is undoubtedly at work, tearing out the old and making all things new.
I want to share the story from John’s gosepl that God drew me into, that initially led me to the encouraging word “renew” for 2016.
It was the occasion of Jesus’ first miracle—a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It’s a good thing Jesus was there. He saved the “big day” from being remembered as that embarrassing event that ended in disappointment for all involved. See, they ran out of wine. Not only would it end everyone’s celebration, it could easily be interpreted as a bad sign of things to come for the couple. This miscalculation was not good at all. I’m sure the guests would try to be gracious, laughing it off as no big deal, but inwardly disappointed by the lack of preparation for such an important event.
But no fear, Jesus is here! Things would end well. As a matter of fact, they would end far better than they began.
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him. (John 2:1-11)
When I read this short passage, I picked up on two details that can serve as guides for my own life.
#1 – Mary’s statement to the servants:
“Whatever He says to you, do it.” (John 2:5)
I can only imagine what Mary had seen over the years that gave her the confidence to say this. She knew that this was not just a man—just her son; He was God in the flesh. Everything that had been told to her had happened. Nevermind the detours, the unexpected, the miscalculations, the mistakes—she fully knew that her sovereign God was overseeing everything. She knew that no matter what, “do what He says” you won’t be disappointed. Trust Him—even with the failures.
and #2 – The headwaiter’s statement to the bridgegroom:
“Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:10)
The headwaiter didn’t know that someone more than just a man was responsible for this sweet surprise. I’m encouraged to see that it couldn’t have happened apart from their miscalculations. When we run out of our own resources, it’s the perfect opportunity for Jesus to show up in the way that only He can. When we can’t make sense of what’s happened or why it’s happened— it’s an opportunity for renewing our trust in Him, and He’ll always exceed our expectations.
Much of my life consists of filling stone pots with plain old water, so to speak. What I’m doing sometimes feels pointless. Maybe one of those servants mumbled to another: “Why is this guy telling us to do this? What a waste of time!” The other servant answers: “I don’t know man, just fill the pot.” My feelings will not always line up with God’s Word, but I believe in what He says far more than I trust my feelings. I fill those pots anyway, trusting that He will not disappoint me. I may have to wait. Surely, I’ll experience failures and obstacles, but no matter what—He will show up and transform my plain old water to the finest wine, every time.
“May he kiss me with the kisses of his mouth!
For your love is better than wine.” (Song of Songs 1:2)
His perfect love is a lasting reason for us to ring in a happy re-new year, come what may.
Do you like the idea of focusing on one word? Have you thought of one for yourself? If so, share it!
Celebrating with you, friend… Jamie =)