For the past few days I've been mopey. Do you know what I mean? I guess I could chalk it up to nostalgia with its wistful regrets of what I didn't accomplish during the past year. I might even have faced the doldrums because staring the New Year in the face makes me wonder if I'll do something of worth.
For the last couple of years I have chosen a word to characterize the upcoming year, rather than set goals and resolutions I will break or not accomplish. But this year I didn't have a sense for a word until I headed to bed last night. The word, diligent, came to mind. I thought on it a bit and then drifted off.
Then as I read the last entry in my One Year Bible this morning, the last verse on the page convinced me.
"Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates." Proverbs 31:30-31
Now I'm not a big fan of the Proverbs 31 woman. Not because she's bad. She's just so hard to imitate. This lady is so dog-gone perfect that it's annoying.
However, these two verses seemed to fit with the word diligent perfectly in my mind. Diligent can be defined as characterized by steady, earnest, and energetic effort. Other forms of the word held these synonyms: active, engaged, busy, persevering application, and determinedly.
What many do is strive to attain success or to be noticed which is really just superficial. I've felt pulled toward this trap. The verse speaks of charm and beauty - superficial and not lasting. But what kind of woman receives praise? The one who fears the Lord.
Fear of the Lord isn't a cowering in this instance. This kind of fear is a respect and reverence. A remembering of who should be first. A reminder of who guides us to the success He would have for us.
Here's where my word came into play. The only way to experience the fruit and be praised for my own works is to be diligent in working out God's plan for me.
As I applied this word to different areas of my life, it seemed to fit.
I want to give earnest and engaged effort when it comes to my family. They deserve that.
I want to be steady and active in my work at school with all students and teachers.
I want to display persevering application to reaching others with the gospel.
I want to give earnest and active effort to writing God's message through my stories.
The list continues as I think of different aspects of my life. I suppose I could wrap them altogether by simply saying: I want to be diligent for God this year. I wish for diligence to characterize me, not just a busyness for being busy sake. I also don't want my diligence to be misplaced in striving for the superficial. Nor do I want to work at tasks halfheartedly. The definition of diligent seems to refute anything but focused, all-out engagement.
So, that's what I'm posting on the little board on my desk - Diligent. May I come to the end of 2017 and be able to say I've given my best attempt at being characterized as diligent for God.
Has God shown you some verse or word that might challenge you this year? Feel free to share in the comments.
And Happy God-filled New Year!