Sometimes a single word can change everything. When I learned about the concept of a God-given “Word of the Year” in 2008, I took it to heart and started asking God for a single word theme for the new year.
The word He gave me was “hold” and it really took hold of me that year. It was so meaningful to me that I have continued to seek a new word from God every year. In fact, it’s been life changing for me in a huge way.
God Gives a Word
In choosing a word, this article by Dan Britton is helpful. Dan cautions us not to “try to approach the one-word theme as just another goal,” or to “look at it as a task on your to do list. You must see it, rather, as a journey.”
It’s not a New Year’s resolution, and has never been a command for me to try to follow. It’s more like a gift from God.
I always take my time, prayerfully asking, listening carefully, and then looking for ways that God confirms the selection of it. It isn’t necessarily a favorite word, or an obvious one. It usually takes me by surprise.
Although several words may be considered, I wait to see which one stays with me over time and begins to speak to me. Usually it starts showing up in scriptures every day, but not necessarily.
A friend was given the word “float,” and I had to laugh. I was imagining a fisherman in an inner tube! But the image that came up when we Googled “float” was of a beautiful, billowy boat/bed beside a sea of tranquility.
Little did we know it, but that year her husband would leave her, and this special word would help her “float” with God through the difficulties.
The Word is all Around
Once I have a single word from God, I start noticing it all around me. In order to keep track of what I felt God was saying to me, I kept a notebook devoted only to the word “hold” and underlined it often in my Bible.
Derivatives of the word starting popping out from the page too, and I started writing them down as well. I had never realized how many ways this word could be used, and began to take note of it from scripture, books, newspapers, spoken messages, on Facebook, in blogs and in everyday conversation.
My words for the following years were “way,” “trust” and “refuge.” Each one of these has a variety of ways it can be used in the English language. Note these amazing excerpts of variety and depth from my notebooks:
Hold on, hold fast, hold onto, take hold, strongholds, withholding, uphold, behold, held together, to have and to hold, lives on hold, hold back, hold a grudge, hold the faith, hold up in prayer, hold together, lay hold of, hold your ground, the hold of a ship
God’s ways, man’s ways, the way, truth and life; highways, the way of a mother with a child, away in a manger, examine your ways, followers of The Way, prepare the way, always, anyways, way-out, wayfarer, waylaid, way of all flesh, way of the cross, way to go!
Trust God, entrust, mistrust, living trusts, distrust, trusting, trust account, worthy of trust, trust in Him, trust Him, trust you, lack of trust, trustee, trustful, trustworthy, trusty
Take refuge, a refuge, elk refuge, refugee camp, national wildlife refuge, refugee, refuges, refuged, refugium
Although I sought single words from God, He always expanded them in huge ways in order to get His full message across to me each year. He took me in directions I never expected to go with those words.
He’s Growing Me
I find myself growing in a desire to hear God’s specific word to me. I don’t want to be led by theology or rules; I want to be led by the very voice of God Himself. It’s a very special moment, indeed, when I know God is speaking personally to me.
By the end of each year I find that I have grown spiritually, my eyes and ears are alert when I hear my special word, and I know God has brought me through the year in a very special, personal way.
In addition, all of the combined phrases I’ve written down in my notebooks have given me an even greater word, or theme.
I also noticed, surprisingly, that each of my words have been used progressively in my life, taking me one step further in my journey of drawing nearer to God. I had to hold onto Him more deeply before I could understand His ways; then I was in a position to start trusting Him more once I understood Him better.
The result this year is that I have been in a warm place of refuge, having grown so much closer to Him in the previous three years. I have not been anxious about anything in this place of refuge. I can only imagine what He has for me next year.
How does God reveal your word to you typically? In reading your comments to this topic in the past, one person said he would “seek a word to help keep him anchored the next year.” One person has kept this beautiful record of her word on Pinterest.
What is your word for 2013?
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When Jacob ran away from his enraged brother, he went to sleep in a land that seemed desolate. But, after dreaming about heaven and God’s promise of His presence, he woke up and thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” Gen. 28:11-16
The Lord has been reminding me of the importance of been aware of His presence at all times, of His promises, of His power, of His grace, of His majesty, of His everlasting love… So my word for 2014 is awareness.
Thanks for sharing — this will be eye-opening for sure!
God has been telling me the word “Hold” also but in phrases, I was searching one of the phrases and I seen your website! Confirmation! Here is what He has been telling me …. “Hold Daddy at the door” (our Heavenly Father is our Daddy) “Hold the sea” “Hold the lady at the door” “Hold your call” “Hold your sword” … Hold the sea is what I was searching on the Internet this morning and I believe God is telling us that whatever is cast in the sea that we should not be bringing back out of the sea, to leave it there! Whether it be our sins, sickness, troubles, ect , that once it has been thrown to the sea…. We should leave it in the sea of forgetfulness to never be brought back again, especially with our tongue!
Thanks so much for sharing with us — God bless!
consistency … oddly I have felt this was a message God has been giving me but had never heard of the ‘One word’ idea… very excited to see God’s work over the next year!
Thanks–nice to hear from you!
My word is present.
I wrote a blog post about it. http://theknightfive.wordpress.com/2013/01/04/whats-your-word/
Thank you for sharing!
Hi Juli, here’s the post where I linked to you! http://biggreenpen.com/2012/12/30/2013-getting-out-of-the-box/ Thanks, Paula
Thank you for the link! And God bless!
Hi Juli, Thank you for this post. I ran across it when doing my own blog post about resolutions for 2013 and it gave me some needed food for thought. I also linked to it. THANK YOU. And wishing you many blessings for 2013.
working on my blog post with my word.
with this world… Grace came so much. Much needed Grace and much needed to extend Grace…. and then God gave us Neema (our newly sponsored child) her name means Grace in Swahili (didn’t know this when we got her).
This year…. God has been impressing on me for a couple weeks…
Thanks for sharing…..
Sounds like a good one for 2013 & I love hearing about how God used your previous words!
This sounds great, and what a powerful word! You will enjoy this throughout the year as your faith and understanding of the word grows throughout the year.
As I prepare to start college in January, we plan to move in the next few years, and also as we raise funds to go to the Dominican Republic in November of 2013 as part of a sponsor tour, I have felt the Lord impress on my heart the word “Faith” in the past couple months. After some rough circumstances and trying days, I began really seeing this word manifest in my life daily. Through God providing answers to prayers, my devotions, ETC, the word “Faith” became obviously apparent. I remembered the “One word” challenge, and have decided my word for 2013 will be faith. I have never done this before, so I’m excited to see how the Lord grows and stretches me in the year to come! I pray that my faith will grow, and I pray I will continually look for this word in every day life.
The word the Lord gave me for 2013…. flexible. This is going to be an interesting year!
Yes! I agree! Great word!
Compassion International has become one of the largest charities in the U.S. in recent years. Their mission is unique and powerful; the idea of sponsoring individual children. I run competitive road races exclusively on behalf of major charities, and recently I gained sponsorship for donations to go to Compassion International for a race that I will be running for in Spring 2013, the Pittsburgh Marathon. I’m looking forward to race day.
The race sounds wonderful & I’m glad you chose to help children in need!
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,… He (Jesus the Son) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature…
(Hebrews 1:1-3a ESV)
This is the Word of God that came to mind when reading this article. Before the completion of the Bible God gave His word through people called prophets and that word was with out error, authoritative, and binding in such a way that it was a sin to disobey it. As the passage teaches God used to do this until He sent His Son “the exact imprint of his nature,” the fullness of the revelation in God. God’s word now comes to us through the Scripture and the Scripture alone. To read or hear the Scripture is to hear God’s word. The Bible is sufficient for the Christian (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Where is the one place that we can go to hear God’s word 100% of the time? Well, God’s Word (the Bible).
HE is AWESOME
Y queria decir que me gusta lo que hacen por los niños del mundo.
sorry I want two words for 2013…AWESOME as in “OUR GOD is an AWESOME GOOOOOODDDDDDDDDDDD!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ou5T1WwlAU
Sounds awesome to me!
2010-second (like go the 2nd mile with the Roman soldier)
2013-fix (as in Philippians 4:8 “fix your mind on these things” amplified bible version I believe 😉
2012 was my third year doing this and I’ve loved seeing how God connects my words from year to year.
2010 – LOVE
2011 – QUIET (Zephaniah 3:17 was a key verse for me – God would quiet me with his love)
2012 – LISTEN – Once God had quieted me with His love, I was ready to listen.
I’ve been sensing for a couple weeks that my word for 2013 is SLOW.
Why did the word “slow” make me laugh? Does my reaction mean anything to you? Great word! Blessings to you friend!
I love this word! It will be interesting to see how it plays out for you!
I’m so glad you posted this, as I’ve enjoyed waiting on “my word” to be given to me over the last few years. I always enjoy reading this post at year’s end on the blog and seeing what other words will be guiding fellow sponsors. My word for 2013, which came to me a few weeks ago, is INTENTIONAL.and it is the way in which I hope to pray, love, act in the new year.
Thanks so much for sharing your word with us!
Thank you for this article and creative idea! I always take time around Dec. to reflect and get refreshed before the new year so I am totally going to pray for God to provide a ‘word’ between us for 2013! 🙂
Do you have your word yet?
Actually, no. I’ve been praying about it alot…some come up but nothing strongly enough that I know it’s the word. I’ll just have to stay open. If God gives me a word then I’ll be thrilled…if He doesn’t then I’ll just trust that maybe, this year, He’s got some other direction or ideas for me 🙂
The first year I couldn’t tell if it was me choosing a word of God laying it on my heart – I still don’t know. But I figure that if I sincerely ask God to teach me and grow me, He will – regardless of the word and regardless of who chose it.
This year I consistently found myself wishing I could eliminate the need to hurry and that’s how I felt God was revealing my word for 2013 – slow.