New Year Verse


At the start of last year I chose John 14:1 to serve as my touchstone verse for 2010. At the time I was preoccupied by the publishing grind, frustrated by my lack of progress and struggling to control the outcome. John 14:1 – "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me" – spoke to my need for control and my lack of trust. I thought about the verse often as I struggled to let God's will reign.

Little did I know at the time how important that verse would become for me during the year. When my mother-in-law Janice died in September, I struggled with the fact that she suffered so much. "Why did her dying need to be so prolonged?" I wondered. "Why did she, and we, need to experience so much pain and loss? What was the point of such agony? What purpose did it serve?"

I turned to that verse again and again, repeating it to myself as I walked the kids to school, as I drove to work, as I folded laundry.

"Trust in God. Trust in God. Trust in God."

When I succumbed to grief, when I found I couldn't answer any of the bitter questions that rose like bile in my throat, I discovered that all I could do was trust. The verse that began as a simple mantra to address a relatively insignificant problem became a lifesaving grace.

I didn't plan to choose a verse at the start of 2011. It crossed my mind, but in the flurry of holiday preparations and travel, I didn't have time to page through the Psalms or the Gospels to search for phrases that would soak into my heart. But just a few days ago, as I read the early chapters of Exodus, these lines jumped off the page:

"Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today...the Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." (Exodus 14:13-14, NLT)

These words, it turns out, are meant for me, as I teeter on the edge of a brand-new year that bumps ahead of me like a pot-holed city road.

Like the Israelites poised and hesitant in desert wilderness, I don't feel particularly courageous or adventurous or confident. I don't feel especially positive about the new year. Instead, the twelve months loom large and burdensome, peppered with milestones that will sear with the ache of missing: Janice's birthday; Easter; a summer vacation at their Minnesota cabin; Janice and Jon's 50th wedding anniversary, missed by one short year; the one-year anniversary of her death. And like the Israelites, sometimes I think I'd rather say, "No thank you. I don't care to step forward. I prefer to go back to the way it was."

Moses tells me that God is with me; that he will accompany me and rescue me in the days that lay ahead. My role is simple: I need to stand still, to be still. To breathe out fear and keep my eyes open wide, watching for God's presence in the living.

Are you greeting the new year with a sense of dread or sadness? Perhaps Moses' words will be some comfort to you, too?
"Don't be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today...the Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm." (Exodus 14:13-14, NLT

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HappyascanB  – (January 5, 2011 at 5:29 AM)  

Beautiful verse! I lost my Daddy when I was 14; he died in October of '94. I was just telling my husband how I remember that New Years Eve like it was yesterday. As the clock struck midnight, I sobbed like a baby in the arms of a dear friend. Life truly was going on around me. Grief or no grief. And it hurt.

I know this next year will full full of painful firsts as you mentioned. Cling to the beautiful promises of our Heavenly Father now and always. He WILL see you through.

Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience  – (January 5, 2011 at 5:56 AM)  

Oh.
Your words, His words --- they smooth out the bumpy road ahead.
*thankyou*

Heidiopia  – (January 5, 2011 at 6:50 AM)  

What timely words! I'm on the cusp of some changes coming-- I just don't know what they are and I've been praying for the courage to embrace whatever God has in store for me next.
Thanks for sharing your journey. xo

H. Gillham  – (January 5, 2011 at 7:48 AM)  

I love the verse you had for 2010 -- God is good that way, isn't He? He knows what words you need -- and then now, Exodus? Perhaps God is telling you to step ahead in faith -- to go -- that he will be with you.

Each new year gives me pause. Again, the month of January -- the year stretching ahead -- and knowing that before I can think about it, ponder it, the jonquils will pop from the hard, cold earth, the dogwoods will bloom, the trees will shoot green -- and it's all to do again. I just hope that I some how do better this year than I did last -- that I love Him more -- and that I trust Him more as well.

Those first anniversaries are hard --- after my parents died -- 62 days apart -- as each day passed, I thought this is one day farther from them -- but then I realized -- "no, that's not true -- it's actually another day closer to being reunited with them."

Don't dread -- embrace -- don't be sad -- be encourage. God is so good.

Hugs.

:)

Megan Willome  – (January 5, 2011 at 8:35 AM)  

Yep, I feel that way, too. I'm 10 months into the grief process and have passed several milestones, but the biggie is yet to come.

And your 2011 verse, that was Mom's verse for when her head was strapped to a table to get radiation to kill the cancer in her brain and eye. So the words "be still" kind of freak me out right now. She had faith I still cannot imagine.

Tricia  – (January 5, 2011 at 9:06 AM)  

Michelle, I love your verse fore the year. Very fitting. I pray for you every day and I will continue to do so this next year as you walk through the grief. Cut yourself some slack and remember that even when you feel completely abandoned and alone in your pain, God is right there with you.

Grace on the Narrow Path  – (January 5, 2011 at 9:13 AM)  

I understand ... HE is with us always.
Blessings,
Bren

Julie  – (January 5, 2011 at 9:35 AM)  

Michelle,

Oh fear and grief have a way of holding us captive don't they? I do not look forward to a New Year...very comfortable where I am at and how things are right now. The future has a way of creating the "what-if's " in my mind.

Thank you for sharing....and for the words of Exodus 14....they do soothe the anxious soul.

Blessings to you.
Julie

David Rupert  – (January 5, 2011 at 10:11 AM)  

I love the hope you give in this verse and post

I Live in an Antbed  – (January 5, 2011 at 10:43 AM)  

Beautiful verse! Beautiful declaration of faith!! He will fight for you!!!

S. Etole  – (January 5, 2011 at 10:49 AM)  

I needed this today ... a lot.

Monica Sharman  – (January 5, 2011 at 10:54 AM)  

I've gone back to John 14:1 several times last year, too---especially the beginning: "Let not your heart be troubled" which is repeated a little later, with the addition, "Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." Such a great help.

And it's the same with your Exodus verse. "Don't be afraid..."

What a year you've had. And the year ahead...yes, our role is simple.

Thank you.
Monica

Lara Prachar –   – (January 5, 2011 at 11:30 AM)  

Thanks for this Michelle. This year will be so hard without Janice and my dad. I had a panic attack on New Year's Eve at the thought of a year that would have experiences that didn't include my dad. So your verse is very timely for me. ~Lara

gabe  – (January 5, 2011 at 11:52 AM)  

I don't think I have ever commented here before. . .but I wanted to let you know that your shop not project made a lasting impression on me. It was one of the many little nudges I needed to start my New Year a little differently. Thanks for sharing your heart so openly.

Lisa notes...  – (January 5, 2011 at 11:54 AM)  

Oh, Michelle. Now you're making me cry. I am one who needed to hear these words today! Thank you for your faithfulness in listening to God's voice, and for sharing it here. You bless me, friend.
Love,
Lisa

Andrea  – (January 5, 2011 at 11:55 AM)  

I am always blessed when I come by here and today is no different. Thank you for being you and for writing from your heart and allowing GOD to guide each and every word.

Blessings,
andrea

jasonS  – (January 5, 2011 at 1:35 PM)  

I love how God will speak so profoundly right into our situation. Wonderful! Thanks for listening and sharing, Michelle.

Rebecca Ramsey  – (January 5, 2011 at 4:23 PM)  

I'm standing still right with you, Michelle. Watching. Trying just to breathe and trust.

Happy New Year, my friend.

Jen  – (January 5, 2011 at 8:31 PM)  

I love the whole verse, your whole post, really. But I love this line the most: "To breathe out ear and keep my eyes open wide, watching for God's presence in the living."

Beautiful, sister.

Jean Wise  – (January 5, 2011 at 9:25 PM)  

Beautifully written and I think God has given you just the perfect verse for this year. This year my verse is Psalm 16:8 - Set the Lord always before me and
Psalm 27:8 - Seek His Face! ( shorten versions here)

Don't you just love how God sends us just what we need.

Laura  – (January 5, 2011 at 10:05 PM)  

It means so much to me to have the Word to anchor me through the bumpy times. Praying a blessed 2011 for you, Michelle. So grateful our dear Lord has brought us together in this strange land :).

Deidra  – (January 5, 2011 at 11:15 PM)  

"Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today..." Wow. That leaves me breathless. It is so luxurious.

Kim  – (January 5, 2011 at 11:31 PM)  

Beautiful. Just stand still. Watching. When do I EVER do that? Thank you, Michelle!

Joy  – (January 6, 2011 at 9:46 AM)  

Thank you for sharing this verse. It is such a timely reminder for me, in the middle of the place of God has me now.

Kelli  – (January 6, 2011 at 2:45 PM)  

"My role is simple: I need to stand still, to be still. To breathe out fear and keep my eyes open wide, watching for God's presence in the living." I really like this. Trusting God is what we all need to do more of...

Connie Mace  – (January 6, 2011 at 7:47 PM)  

"Just stand still and watch the Lord"...and just this is enough for me...amen...GOD's Peace to you friend.

Sheryl  – (January 6, 2011 at 9:37 PM)  

Such powerful verses. Thank you for reminding me of them. May you see the Lord rescue you over and over again this year.

Bonnie Gray  – (January 8, 2011 at 2:38 AM)  

Trust. What a beautiful word made much more beautiful in the context of your story, Michelle. Thankful for your words.

Glynn  – (January 8, 2011 at 6:46 PM)  

A word - a verse - putting God's word(s) in our heart.

Good post, Michelle.

Jeri@GodsDreamsForMe Ⓥ  – (January 11, 2011 at 8:15 PM)  

We can stand still because He is with us in the days to come. Blessed by your Words Michelle. Thank You and Happy New Year to you.

Jeri@GodsDreamsForMe Ⓥ  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM)  

We can stand still because He is with us in the days to come. Blessed by your Words Michelle. Thank You and Happy New Year to you.

Julie  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM)  

Michelle,

Oh fear and grief have a way of holding us captive don't they? I do not look forward to a New Year...very comfortable where I am at and how things are right now. The future has a way of creating the "what-if's " in my mind.

Thank you for sharing....and for the words of Exodus 14....they do soothe the anxious soul.

Blessings to you.
Julie

Grace on the Narrow Path  – (April 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM)  

I understand ... HE is with us always.
Blessings,
Bren

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