I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because I’m one of those people who begins with a traditional change-a-habit resolution and statistically gives up about the second or third week of January.

But I don’t wander aimlessly through the year, either. Each year seems to have a theme that’s eventually revealed to me.

Sometimes it’s a Bible verse. Like the year 2008. The verse the Lord gave me was from James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you…” That verse became a beacon of light. A rallying cry. A place of refuge. A step forward when my feet didn’t want to move in any direction.

As I’ve written before, in the fall of 2008 my husband Dave became very sick. For the last eight months of his life, we drew near to God and He drew near to us. The Lord was preparing me for the journey ahead with Dave and for the journey ahead without him. He was also calling me into a deeper relationship with Him.

For a couple of years my theme was Proverbs 3:5-6. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”

It’s not merely a nice Bible verse to make into a sign and hang on a wall. It’s a direct promise from the Lord. If we trust completely in him and not in ourselves as we have a tendency to do, He will lead us. It’s an either-or situation. Either we trust the Lord or we trust ourselves.

This verse came to me during intense change in my life. The Lord called me away from one type of ministry I absolutely loved into another, unknown ministry. There was no doubt that he was calling me. Many people knew it as well I did. That doesn’t mean the change was easy. It was one little step of faith after another. Sometimes my feet felt encased in cement as I was called to go places I never dreamed I’d go, into situations I’d never imagined.

Of course, that’s just what I needed to shake me up, knock off a few more of my rough edges, and lean on the Lord and His leading. I can be stubborn. A little more of that stubbornness was knocked out of me. It’s still there, but slowly it’s being whittled down.

One or two years the theme was “The Fruit of the Spirit” from Galatians 5:22-23. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

If the Holy Spirit lives inside us, then the Lord brings these gifts into our lives just like fruit appears on a tree. These are gifts that we do not give ourselves, but the Spirit grows in us.

Yet we still have the responsibility to make the choice to weed out the old sin. We each have the ability to say “Yes” or “No” to sin. As we allow the Holy Spirit to be our gardener, His fruit continues to grow and He shows us where our weeds are hiding. They can be persistent, but the Holy Spirit will convict us.

This year I have a new theme. It’s simply “Letting Go.” All those things that seem so important in life, aren’t. Someone hurts our feelings. Let it go. Ask the Lord to help us to forgive that person. Someone says untrue things about us behind our backs. Let it go. God is our vindicator (Isaiah 54:7). He fights for us. We don’t need to fight. In fact, we are called to love and pray for our enemies.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:43-45).

In the time I have left on earth, I don’t want to waste it collecting my hurts in a bottle, dumping them out repeatedly to relive and relish. I want to spend this time thanking and serving the Lord. Growing in His grace and truth. Asking Him to lead me. I want to let go and let God be in charge. After all, we can’t imagine the plans He has for us.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Kathy Yoder is a devotional writer. She may be reached at kathyyoder4@gmail.com.

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