I know, it’s a little weird that my word of the year is a name, but there’s a good reason for that.
See, when my friend Carla died on November 17, 2014, I issued the Carla Dysert Challenge. At the time, I was trying to come to terms in my friend’s sudden death. I needed to find meaning in it – not for her death to just be a senseless tragedy. So, I challenged people to do what Carla did – to listen to what God said, look for the opportunities He showed her and then to obey.
A little over a month down the road, and I was staring at the end of the year with no idea of what my word for 2015 should be. I’ve been doing the one word challenge for several years now, and usually, long before the end of December rolls around, my word for the next year seems obvious.
It wasn’t this year. There were possibilities and glimmers of the path God wanted me to walk this year, but it wasn’t exactly clear.
Throughout the last few months, God has been showing me the importance of prayer. That phrase – the importance of prayer – seems so worn and mundane. But it’s like God has opened my eyes to the desperate need I have for prayer in my life. Of the huge power that I was missing in my life without dedicated prayer time.
Yet, Prayer really wasn’t the word.
I started thinking about how prayer was at the center of everything, like a pebble thrown into a pond – the ripples just kept going. So, I thought maybe Still would be my word because it all starts with being still and knowing He is God.
But Still wasn’t quite right either.
Because prayer, while vital and essential, can become a crutch to not act. It’s really easy to pray and to listen and to hear God, but then do nothing.
There is this really interesting part of the story of the parting of the Red Sea. In Exodus 14:15, the children of Israel are standing at the shore of the Red Sea with the Egyptian army heading their way. They are completely terrified and believed they are going to die.
Moses is trying to reassure them and tells them, “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
There was certainly prayer, but God wanted them to move already. In verse 16, God says to Moses (you can almost hear His exasperation in the text), “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. As for you, lift up your staff and stretch your hand over the sea and divide it and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land.”
God did His part -He gave Moses the ability to divide the sea and He hardened the Egyptians’ hearts so they would go after the Israelites, but in order for God’s miracle to work, the Israelites had to actually move.
Being still, listening to God, praying – all those things are only part of the equation. We have to actually DO what God is telling us. We have to ACT on His instruction.
Yet Move or Do or Act didn’t seem right either.
As I was praying about my word a few days ago, the name Carla came to my mind. Carla? I asked. That seemed a little weird because it’s not like my goal is to BE Carla. As awesome as Carla was, God has given us different gifts and abilities. She was an event planner extraordinaire. Me, not so much.
She also had the energy of a gerbil on speed, and if you ask anyone, I am definitely NOT high speed anything!
Yet, the name Carla reminds me of the things I want to be true in my life. Like Carla, I want to be a woman of prayer and of the Word. I want to start at the feet of Jesus, to be still and listen. I want to walk through my days with my eyes and ears wide open to God’s still small voice and the opportunities He places in my path.
I also want the courage, the boldness, to do what God asks me – even if it seems a little weird, sometimes.
I want to be brave enough to be foolish for God.
Some of my biggest weaknesses are procrastination and lack of follow through. That is not something I want to define my life in 2015. I remember Carla saying to me once that so many people talked about doing things but never actually did them. I don’t want that to be me!
The more I mulled over the name Carla, the more I felt a certainty that this was my word for 2015 because the name Carla reminds me of all the things I want to be true of my life.
It also gives me the opportunity to continue Carla’s legacy in my own small way – a way to remember the gift of her friendship and the way she challenged me and continues to even after her death. I guess that is the best kind of legacy to leave.