- I first came across the idea of themes for the year a few years ago through reading the blogs of friends. Basically the idea is to seek God for an underlying theme for the coming year and then watch how He works that out in your life. Also considering your actions and lifestyle in light of that theme.
- I started doing this myself a few years ago and have noticed more and more people commenting on their themes for the year.
- Some years this has been a process of taking time out, sitting with God, looking at the previous years theme, how that went, praying, reading, listening, and other times it has just been one word or phrase that dropped into my spirit and I KNEW that that was the theme for that year.
- Some years the theme seems like a really nice one and you approach the year thinking "Yeah, I can DO this, this will be fun." and other years you approach your theme with a little trepidation.
- For instance, I have friends whose recent themes include Patience, and everyone knows if God wants to grow patience in you, He's going to put you in some situations that will require you to grow patience and those might not be fun. I have another friend whose theme for the coming year is Enjoy and I'm really excited to watch and see what God does with her this year.
- Other years you look at your theme and you think it's going to be one thing and looking back on the year at the end you see it totally fitted with your theme BUT absolutely NOT in the way you had expected that to work out.
- As an example a few years ago my theme for the year was "Seeking God for myself, not relying on others to speak into me." I thought "yeah, I can do this, lots of time praying, reading my bible, listening for god to speak, yeah, I can do this." What I did not expect was for it to be the most isolating year of my life socially, where a lot of relationships were stretched, broken, and there were fewer and fewer people close enough to be able to speak into my life. I had no choice but to seek out God for myself.
- Then there was 2008. REST! Great, fantastic, slow down, take it easier, REST. HA! God really has a sense of humour.
- I started 2008 knowing that I was having some medical symptoms that I suspected were sleep apnoea related. I had tried to seek medical advice previously but had been rebuffed by our family doctor who would not refer me to a specialist. As my symptoms began to worsen, and I realised I had less and less energy, needing frequent 3 or 4 hour daytime naps just to get through the day, falling asleep sat up at the computer desk, and even, at times mid conversation with my family, I knew I would have to face the doctor again. And I was prepared for it to be a battle, I was prepared that I would need to FIGHT to be heard.
Alongside that, hubby and I had been struggling in our role as small group leaders at church. We had taken on what turned out to be an incredibly difficult group, for various reasons. We HAD previously tried to get help in our role, but had not been heard, we had even tried to quit before, but had been persuaded to stay. I was prepared for this, too to be a battle, I was prepared to have to FIGHT for what I knew God was doing in me!
So, here were two situations in which I was totally expecting a battle.
When I finally got up the courage to approach the doctors again, in the end I got my referral to the sleep clinic! PRAISE GOD. I went to my first appointment and for the first time in relation to these symptoms I felt like I was really HEARD. It truly felt like God had gone before me and prepared the way.
Small group leading? It was awesome. We hold no blame over the couple who led the ministry at that time at all, and they were absolutely fantastic, totally coming to terms with where we were at, apologising for not having realised before and giving us the space to step back with no repercussions.
So, two situations in which I expected battle and found nothing but the way already prepared before me.
A year in which physically I was forced to take more and more rest as my symptoms grew.
A year in which I tried to make much more of a focus on getting to "soaking" meetings, where we just sit on a comfy sofa, or lie on the floor and rest while appropriate worship music is played over us. Sometimes someone prays and sometimes they don't, but we just SOAK in God's presence.
Then, at church family camp 2008 I had the most amazing experience.
I wasn't sure about how attending camp would affect my sleep, and not being able to nap during the day, etc, but I went anyway, figuring if had to hide out in our unit I would. There was this one meeting, and worship was awesome, and I was singing and dancing, and then the tiredness, slowly began to come over me. And I got to a point, where I could not dance any more, but I still stood and sang, and raised my hands. And as the tiredness grew, my hands came down to hold on to the seat in front, and then I had to sit down and eventually even stop singing. I could not even muster to the energy to do that. I COULD NOT fight the sleep, I could not DO anything for God in that moment, I did not even have the energy to think through the words of the song in my head, it was all I could do to just BE. And in that moment I felt the nearness of God like I have NEVER felt it before, I felt His love and His closeness, and His passion, and it overwhelmed me. I mean, seriously overwhelmed me. I could DO NOTHING, and in that moment He came to me. I could DO NOTHING and in that moment He poured out His love on me. I could DO NOTHING and in that moment he came to dwell with me. I could do NOT ONE THING to make myself acceptable to God, I could not earn it in any way shape or form, I could not even keep my eyes open in the worship service, and in that place, He expressed His passionate love and care for me.
- 2009 began with a theme of Breakthrough but in fact, at first glance, it started with some situations that did not look like breakthrough at all.
I would not be allowed to drive my car for a few months at least. Due to my diagnosis of Sleep Apnoea, my driving licence had been medically revoked. My precious little gift of a car was put off road for a while!
I was to receive a local bus pass because of that but that would take 5 or 6 weeks to come through, so in the meantime, and for any journeys after it came through that were not possible by bus, I was reliant on others!
So, NO, this didn't look like breakthrough, and it didn't feel like breakthrough, but I KNEW that I knew that I knew, that God, the Father had His hands completely on this whole process and that He would use this, even this to bring about the breakthrough He intended!
And at the same time, I was heading towards some fantastic moments of breakthrough that I already knew about!
Hubby and I celebrated 15 years of marriage in February. Something a lot of people never thought we'd do!
I got my CPAP machine (Sleep apnoea treatment) at the end of January 2009 and despite an early struggle to get used to it and moments of absolute despair at the possibility of things never improving I am now able to go about my day without falling asleep and without needing daytime naps and live life more or less normally. Of course there are still bad days, bad nights, and I still don't have the energy to do EVERYTHING, but this is SO much better than things were before I got treated.
The restoration of day time energy levels meant I could focus once again on losing some weight and increasing my heart health through exercise! And that year I lost almost 30 pounds.
I have also seen breakthrough in other areas of my life, I got my driving licence back at the end of the summer 2009, and God met me particularly in the struggle and desire for deeper female friendship, with that being met in more than 1 way. God had also spoken to my local church about breakthrough, that October, using the very verses from Joshua that I had used to back up my theme for that year.
2009 was NOT over yet when I wrote this list of points. I did not Believe the year of Breakthrough was over yet! I believed there was much to come, both in the remaining 5 weeks of the actual year, and truly, I believed beyond that! When I sought God for a theme for 2010 it was not denying the breakthrough that would continue, it was merely adding to it!
- So, 2010? This list was originally written in November 2009 and friends had been speaking of their themes for this coming year already, and I was refusing to even acknowledge it, refusing to accept that this was possible. I was still in the middle of my busiest 2 months of the year and quite simply, it was not even on my radar and I was fine with that.
- THEN, one morning in November 2009, I was lying in bed and a thought dropped into my head, ONE WORD! And I thought after it, "Oh that might be my theme for the year" Then I reminded myself that I was refusing to think about that yet and that anyway was I really sure I wanted a theme like that? Remembering what I said up in points 6 and 7.
I mentioned to some friends that I thought I MIGHT have my theme and was GRUMP GRUMP GRUMP in response to it.
The truth is this theme fits in with other things that God has been speaking to me over recent weeks, and was confirmed by a blog post from someone whose writing I trust, the morning I wrote this list.
- One word - or at least one word, that can be put in a number of different ways.
Not working harder and harder, but working smarter. Not doing things just because "well someone's got to do it" but focusing on those things that I believe God wants ME to do. Not doign things because "Doing A is the only way B is going to happen" but trusting God that what He has promised to do, He WILL do. Simplifying STUFF as well, de-cluttering, getting rid of junk, emotionally, spiritually and physically. NOPE, I don't think this is going to be an EASY theme to live through, but I think it's going to be an adventure, and I am up for that!
addition in December 2011:
Check out the following links to see other posts on my yearly themes