A word for 2015: obedience

Life centers around time.

Always has, I suppose.

After all, the rise and set of the sun is the one sure constant in our allotted existence on this spinning ball of dirt.

And so we come again to the eve of the eve of another new year.

Some folks make resolutions. Some start diets. Some create goals. Some do nothing.

Usually, I do nothing. If I’m lucky enough to be home on New Year’s Eve, I fall into a contended sleep well before midnight to the sounds of my out-of-this-world teenagers laughing and playing as a network TV show broadcasts the NYC ball drop in the background.

But this year, I felt a nudge.

The nudge to claim…or perhaps proclaim…a word for the year over my life.

I’ve done this twice before, in 2012 and in 2013.

Truthfully, I really hadn’t thought one way or the other about choosing a word for 2015. But that nudge kept at me.

And so I turned.

And listened.

The word I heard is


Not an easy word. In fact, I can think of a whole lot of other words I’d rather linger over…joy, for example. Grace. Hope. Peace. NAP. Cook. Get the teenagers to school on time. Dust the baseboards. Dogs (’cause we have three in case you didn’t know).

Did I mention NAP?

But obedience?

Really, God?

Besides a challenge, the word causes a lot of ruckus in some circles. Husbands and wives. Egalitarians and complementarians. Teachers and students. Preachers and flocks. Parents and children. And on and on and on. We’re all supposed to be equal nowadays, right? Pull-ourselves-up-by-the-bootstraps, do-it-our-selfers. Obedient to our selves. The word reminds me of a wedding I attended in the early 1990’s in which the bride chose to keep the phrase about “obey” in the vows. Several friends in attendance threw a fit…after all, why should a bride cow-tow to a husband? The idea of submission and authority, authority and submission, those ideas are


eye-rolling-ly last millennium…right?

I don’t know about all that. And frankly,

I don’t care.

The Gospel doesn’t need defending or deciphering as much as it needs believing. And besides that, my Lord has called me to obedience.


Responding to His whisper when the call of the world threatens to burst my ears.

Going forward when common sense says to go back.

Speaking out when others say to be silent.

Seeking silence when others say to speak out.

Worshipping when others justify cursing.

Forging on straight when left or right seems easier.

Trusting when I’m wallowing in doubt.

Hiding in Him when I’m attacked.

Ministering when I’d rather be ministered to.

Following Him instead of my own understanding.

When faced with these and more, I will try my best to choose


Like dumb oxen straining against dusty,rock-hard plains, a thousand ways of our own seem easier until we slip the harness of His gentle yoke around our burdened necks and are reminded again that in


lies the blessing.

Since Jacob, we’ve all wrestled with God and in His infinite mercy, and He has always entertained our weak-limbed attempts at independence. He even watches with grief and allows us to choose to wander far, far away. But still He lingers, the Good Shepherd, waiting to take us back, always.


What a word.

What a calling.

Not just for me, but for all of us.

What a year I hope to submit to Him.


What about you?

What’s your word for the year?

Or, what is one of your resolutions for 2015?



4 thoughts on “A word for 2015: obedience

  1. I’m not fond of New Year’s resolutions, because I never keep them after the first few weeks or maybe I’ll make it all the way through January. But, then it goes by the wayside.
    I like the idea of focusing on a word. I think I need my word for 2015 to be trust. There are many areas in my life where I need to apply trust, but mainly I will apply trust in His word. I will trust that He will lead me, walk with me, and show me the path He wants me to take.
    Thank you, Amy!

  2. Amy, I love the thought put forth in this writing. I love the word that you have given us, I strive often seek to draw the members of our congregation back to this word (obey; obedience). I use the Shema: “Hear, O Israel…”, where the Hebrew word for hear is Shama’, which means to: to hear, listen to, obey. Your words say it so much more eloquently than I ever have. I pray that many in the year to come will hear and obey. Peace and blessings to you and your family for the coming year.

    1. Thank you, Gary, and I love that you use the Shema with your congregation! My second novel coming in March has a lot of references to Jewish traditions and liturgy, and I did this intentionally because I feel somehow that God is calling us back to His Word and promises, the “long obedience in the same direction” that Eugene Peterson writes about. Peace and blessings to you and yours, too!

  3. The word of 2015 for myself is ‘presence’ & all that it entails: being still, reflection, awareness, living in and being aware of what the moment is filled with as I join it. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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