Call me crazy, but I’m believing BIG with JOY in 2021. My word for this year is “JOY”, unlike other years, this word imprinted itself upon my heart in the last weeks of 2020. Choosing my “word of the year” normally involves much indecision, wrestling and heated discussions with God before I take the plunge with a winner. This year, “JOY” boldly walked into my life with a challenge I can’t get out of my mind.
Admittedly, in previous years, I was never completely sold out with my word choice. Often I didn’t even settle on a word until later in January after setting my goals for the year. At that point I drug my word with me into the new year and hoped for the best. God graciously revealed Himself to me through my word choices here and there. Inconsistency kept me from truly seeking all He had for me in my word of the year. All of that changed this year, I’m believing big with joy in 2021, and I’m all in.
Oddly enough, my word of the year for 2020 was “Freedom”, a more preposterous word choice for last year I can’t imagine. Initially excited with my choice, I incorporated it into my goal vision board, where I viewed it daily. By the time the COVID lockdown hit in March, I questioned the relevancy of my word choice.
Sadly, I did not stay focused on my word of the year, and while I did learn some important lessons, I’m convinced I missed more than I caught. As the end of 2020 rolled around and others started listing all the Lord showed them through their word choices, frustration reared its ugly head. Of course I could blame no one but myself. After discussion with others, I realized I needed a new approach to my word of the year pursuits. One reason I continually fell short with consistency rested in lack of accountability. I rarely shared my word choices with anyone else, making it easy to drift in and out of focus.
As I prayed about my word choice, I considered all that occurred in 2020, and kept focusing on words like “brave”, “overcome” and “determined”. But God kept impressing upon my heart that I was looking “back” not “forward”. I finally realized I was defining 2021 by all that transpired in 2020. Additionally I felt God impressing upon me the need to “believe bigger” in 2021. I began to understand my word of the year for 2021 would require more from me than any prior year.
In the closing weeks of 2020, God made clear the word He chose for me for 2021; JOY. The word came with a challenge, I would need to believe bigger in order to truly embrace joy. The last five years brought many personal trials my way, testing my faith numerous times. Each season shared its lessons, but I confess, joy remained elusive. Not that I didn’t experience happiness at times, but rarely true joy. I know this word comes from the Lord because it is a choice I would not make. The reason? It feels impossible. And, apart from God, it is impossible.
believing big with joy in 2021
A general definition of joy is “an emotion of extreme delight or happiness”. But Biblical joy is a fruit of the Spirit, which means it is not something we can make happen or circumstances can dictate. True joy in my life will come from the work of the Holy Spirit. At the same time, this does not mean I sit idly by while the Holy Spirit makes this happen.
God impressed three particular passages on my heart January 1-4, positioning me to pursue “JOY” in 2021. I chose to read through the Bible chronologically in 2021, and I prefer to start off my reading commitments by reading Psalm 119. Reading Psalm 119 on January 1st, centers my heart on the supremacy of God’s Word. It also helps me consider my ways, turning my steps towards obedience to God’s Word. (Ps. 119:59).
Joy in Psalm 119
Regarding “JOY”, God brought my attention to Psalm 119:1-2. The psalmist says “blessed” are those who walk in the law of the Lord with sincerity, keep His testimonies and seek Him with their whole heart. The word “blessed” here means “joyful”. God followed this up with four more verses mentioning “his whole heart”, Ps. 119:10, Ps. 119:34, Ps. 119:69 and Ps. 119:145.
My Take Away- I will find “JOY” when walking in God’s ways with sincerity, keeping His law and seeking Him with my whole heart.
Joy in Psalm 16
Next stop, Psalm 16; I stumbled upon this rather randomly, but of course landed at the last verse, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” I took this as my verse to go along with the word of the year. A very familiar verse, I always thought of it as the culmination of finally reaching heaven’s bliss, where in God’s Presence I would experience fullness of “JOY”. But my next stop gave me a new perspective on this verse.
My Take Away-I find fullness of “JOY” in God’s Presence.
Joy in Joshua 1:5-9
In Joshua 1:5-9, God charges Joshua to be strong and very courageous as he takes over for Moses to lead the people of Israel. God tells Joshua three times to be strong and courageous, we know it was important for Joshua to grasp this. But in Joshua 1:9, I believe God makes it clear why Joshua could be strong and courageous; “for the Lord God would go with him wherever he went.” Just as God reminds us in Hebrews 13:5, He will never leave us nor forsake us, His Presence is with us right here, right now, always, in all places.
My Take Away- I have God’s Presence with me right now and everywhere I go.
Ground Rules For Joy
Putting all three passages together, I believe my starting position for believing big with Joy in 2021 can be summed up as follows:
I can experience “JOY” while sincerely walking in God’s ways, keeping His Law and seeking Him with my whole heart. In His Presence dwells fullness of “JOY”, and that Presence is with me right here, right now and always. I have access to true “JOY” anytime I rest in His Presence.
a journey with joy in 2021
As I consider my Word of the Year for 2021, it feels intimidating and exhilarating all at once. Confident God has something special in mind for me, given His preparation through the verses above, still the journey requires faith. The long road of 2021 stretches out before me, and believing big with joy in 2021 will challenge me to trust God in new ways.
This year, I’m taking you with me on the journey. I’ll be posting regularly things I’m learning and how God speaks to me about “JOY”. Knowing I have much to learn from this tiny word, I look forward to a deeper intimacy with Christ as I travel the road set before me in 2021. Let me know in the comments below if you have a word for 2021 and how God is leading you!