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The Spiritual Discipline of One Word

spiritual discipline Anger. That’s the word I’d use to sum up my year. It’s been a year of battles. Battling my wife. Battling myself. Battling God.

It’s a good thing for us that the battleground is a fertile place for God’s love in our lives.

there is no one like Jesus

In 2011, my anger ruled me more than I care to admit. I often felt helpless to control it, to rise above it. I felt like a beast. Primal. At times predator. At times preyed upon.

In January, when I wrote my annual blog post about prayerfully choosing one word to define the upcoming year, I felt encouraged by the word given to me by the Holy Spirit: closer.

I thought the word was a promise of deeper intimacy with Jesus. I hoped the word signaled the end of my depression. But that was me overlooking the layers in God’s Word, the complexity within the simplicity.

Even though the year is drawing down and closer is tied to 2011, it’s not a tie that immobilizes; it’s a tie that connects. The words we get each year are foundational words. They build the altar upon which we worship Christ, in word and action. They have relevance every year of our lives.

I will continue to be shaped by closer, beyond December 31. It’s now a part of my name [3].

Even if we don’t experience the fullness of our word each year, at least in the ways we expect to, the year isn’t a failure. We aren’t failures.

I dare say we never will experience the fullness of this annual discipline as long as we assume the discipline is about us receiving something rather than about receiving someone — about receiving Jesus.

Please take the time to let me know.

Prayerfully choosing one word that embodies the promise of the upcoming year is a discipline I picked up from Dan Britton, the executive vice president of ministry programs at the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

I’ve chosen one word each year since 2006 and have been encouraging sponsors to join me [4] in the practice since 2008.

For 2012, my word is thanksgiving.

For important points to consider before beginning this spiritual discipline read Dan’s essay, One Word [5].