My Word for 2015

11:33 AMHeather

Yesterday, I blogged about choosing a word for the year.  Most years, this has been a laborious endeavor, wrestling to pinpoint the word I want to focus on for the next twelve months.

Not this time.

In fact, never has a word for the year come to me so early or so dramatically.  It was October 7.  I can actually describe every detail of this revelation.  I just hope I can do the description justice.

I was standing in a Belizean tilapia pond.  Trudging thigh high in the swampy water, wearing my new red rubber muck boots, which were actually full of water.  I had gingerly stepped into that pond, where the water was actually chest high in the corners.  And it was the last place I had ever planned to be whilst in Belize.  Hang out with the kids at Hopewell?  Sure.  Keep them entertained?  I'll give that a shot.  Help brainstorm some issues using my social work skill set?  No problem.  

But going into that pond where the day before I swore to the oldest girl at Hopewell that I would never go?  As she bragged about swimming in the ponds and I sorta scrunched my face and said, "Think I'll leave that to you kids."

Yep.  There I was.  Scooping up an armful of brush at a time, while Peto, the property caretaker, was busily chopping out the tall branches so that the pond would be prepared for the tilapia fingerlings that would soon be raised there.

I could bore you with all sorts of details about how I ended up there.  But here's the bottom line.

I said yes.

I said yes as I have never said it before.  I had already pushed myself through the fears of leaving home, through my daughter's last minute nightmare that I didn't come home alive, through my unease about going somewhere I'd never been with people I didn't know to do something I had never done.  

Whereas I have spent my entire life waiting for the fear and anxiety to ease before I take a step forward, this time was different.  I just crashed through the wall.  Buoyed by the incredibly applicable words of Christine Caine's book Undaunted, which I just happened to be reading throughout this trip to Belize.  And every word was written just for me, touching on the exact struggle I had at the exact moment I needed it, while I read on the airplane and nightly in my bunk.

And unlike any other time in my life, I just said yes.  Without thinking.  Without questioning.  Without even giving myself a chance to talk myself out of it.  I had simply decided that I was all in.  If I had come that far, I was just going to keep saying yes.  I was going to do everything asked of me.  If God had brought me to this point, I wasn't going to miss a single opportunity.

So I said yes.

And it was profound.  The effect was incredible.  I felt an exhilaration I had never felt before.

I felt freedom.

And that was what God began to stir in me.  


The next step in my journey.  As I spent 2014 diving into God's love for me and how to love him and others, I knew the next step was freedom.

While I trudged around in that murky water, I felt as though I was living out the lyrics of the song Oceans by Hillsong. God was taking me out upon the waters.  Literally.  

The great unknown, where my feet may fail.  I couldn't see what was in that water, and more than once, I took a step and ended up deeper than I expected. Once, I even stepped and suddenly found myself in over my head. 

And I did find God in the mystery.  In that deep pond, I found my faith stood taller than ever before.  I called upon God's name, I tried to keep my eyes above the waters, above the anxiety.  I found that indeed, God's grace abounded to me that deep water in a way I had never experienced.  My feet failed and my fears were surrounding me, buzzing in my ear to flee from this place outside my comfort zone.  

Yet, I literally said to myself, "you've never failed and you won't start now....lead me where my trust is without me walk through these waters...wherever you call me...deeper than my feet truly could ever wander"  Over and over, I repeated these lyrics in my head.  And I can say that this actual experience, which mirrored such a metaphor from the song lyrics--it did make my faith stronger.

And I called upon his name.  Over and over and over. 

What began in that pond was a quiet call to freedom.  Which has gained volume and speed.  It's like a battle cry from deep within. Or shall I say, from high above.

Because I have lived my entire life caged in the opinions and approval of man.  Chained by fears and anxieties and doubt and unbelief.  Bound by performance and ritual and rules. Uncomfortable with taking risks.  Uneasy with leaving my comfort zone.  Tied to my plans and task list.

And God is calling me out upon the waters.  To trust without borders.  To press through the fears and obey anyway.  Instead of letting them stop me.  On a journey to find a freedom I have never known.

Oh, that I could adequately describe that exhilaration in those moments of freedom that God sent to whet my appetite in that Belizean pond.

He's been whispering to me about it ever since.

Even in my study of Luke.  When I read through the first few chapters, baffled at noticing for the first time how Jesus told people to be quiet about who he was when he healed them.  In those early days of his ministry, he was healing the sick and casting out demons and shushing them when they declared his lordship.

Until that pivotal moment when the time of revelation came.  As he stood in his hometown synagogue and took the scroll.  Perhaps as he had down numerous times before.  But this time, he chose a particular text.

And to me, it is as if the world that had been holding its breath while waiting for a Savior could finally exhale. Because he boldly stated who he was.

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor, he has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
Luke 4:18-19

Jesus had been handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  And unrolling it, he found the place where this was written.  Chapter 61. Where this was written hundreds of years before by the prophet...about himself.  And there, in a defining and particular moment, he announced who he was and what he was all about.

And my heart leaped.

Jesus came to proclaim freedom for the prisoners.  To set the oppressed free.  To proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.


It's my year.  This is my time.  To allow him to do what he came to earth to do.  To free me.  To cut my chains and come out of the prison cell where I tend to hide because it's familiar.  When all along, Jesus came for my freedom.

It's time.

Freedom.  To learn to say yes.  Without looking back. 

And just see where he might take me.  

But one things for sure.  I know I will find the Lord's favor there. As I dare to walk out upon the waters.  Trust without borders.


It's my battle cry!   

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