I’ve participated in choosing One Word for several years now, and I have found that each year has challenged me to consider different aspects of my relationship with God and to take a deeper look at my choices with intentionality. Past words Growth, Still, Ready, and Inquire have created filters for the seasons that have helped to block out the white noise and keep my focus on God.
Each year I’ve used the process outlined by the oneword.org Pick a Word outline. And with prayer and a few weeks of intentional listening, the word would become clear. This year was different. In the planning for the Coaches’ Wives retreat in partnership with the Illini Land FCA we met to decide on programming direction.
Liz texted me and said “I feel like we need to name this retreat Pursue” and I knew in my gut she was right. The group chose Colossians 3:17 NASB which says, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” as the theme verse, so Purse fit, but Liz was honing in on this word for more than one reason. Colossians 3:17 is the last verse in a section of with the heading Put On the New Self even though these headings were added much later, they summarize the sections well.
Colossians 3:1-17 is a call to righteous living. It begins this way “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
Our retreat will focus on encouraging coaches’ wives to courageously step into their full calling and to pursue living out their strengths, gifts, talents, and skills. Additionally, we will encourage wives to look to the Bible and learn from the Lord from other people’s stories.
Pursuing these disciplines isn’t a one-time thing. It’s sometimes daunting when we remember we will never finish learning about God. Our Creator is more complex than we can even begin to put into words. However, as we pursue understanding more of his character and heart we will naturally align ours with his and pursue the things that delights him. These are all good things and they will invite us to flourish in the totality of who God has created us to individually be.
As I reflected on the word Pursue and all the applications for the retreat I knew that this word was just as much for me as for the retreat. 2020 is going to be a busy year, the discipline of pursuing God to keep my soul close to his heart feels like the perfect focus for this season.
What Does This Look Like?
I think that we sometimes step into seasons expecting that since we are committing more intentional time focusing on God that things should somehow be easier. But, that’s not always the case. Not that this means life will be miserable, but I think we can consider stories like the Israelites in Joshua and the lives of the disciples and know that life will not automatically become filled with riches and glory. In fact, if you find yourself in the presence of someone demanding those things you need to walk away as quickly as possible. But that’s a side note.
In Joshua 1 Moses has just buried Moses at the top of Mt. Siani and Joshua is the new leader of the Israelites. They have wandered in the desert for 40 years and are ready to take the land they were promised by God.
God speaks directly to Joshua and says these words which are recorded in Joshua 1:1-11:
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (emphasis mine)
Pursuing the Lord Begins with Listening
Joshua spent years in God’s presence watching and listening as he served Moses. He saw every miracle Moses performed at God’s direction. Still, when Joshua took command God began by telling him THREE times to be strong and courageous.
God knew what was ahead for the Israelites. He knew how hard the years ahead would be, but he also knew success was possible with obedience. That obedience would require the Israelites to take courageous steps of faith previous generations weren’t willing to take.
“Be careful to obey the law”, is the other thing God says to Joshua. We now live under the New Testament laws, which doesn’t cancel out all of the Old Testament laws, but Jesus’ death does allow us to live under a new covenant (Luke 22:20).
We aren’t only supposed to be careful to obey the law, we are to meditate on it daily. We should know God’s boundaries so well that when anyone twists God’s words for their benefit we identify it quickly and redirect our focus back to God.
Matthew 6:24 NIV says “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” While someone may be tempted to take this verse legalistically and say point out that Jesus was only referring to money, the Exodus 20:3 begins lists the first of the ten commandments which is “You shall have no other gods before me.”
It is vital that as we pursue God we seek the truth even when it’s not the popular opinion. Joshua and Caleb were the only two who believed the Israelites could take the Promised Land the first time, had the other then spies listened the nation wouldn’t have wandered in the desert for forty years.