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I have been sitting on my word for 2024 for the last 6 weeks just letting things marinate as I prayed about what this year might look like. Picking a word is always this weird mix of wanting it to shape what you do over the next 12 months but also an expectation to see what God will do with it that you didn’t have planned.
In the past, I’ve seen how my word for the year, Delight (in the Process), Presence, Rebuild, Make Room, Healthy, Led (Not Driven), Abundant, Small have played a part in my years. They’ve motivated me into seasons God was calling me to and I’ve also been surprised when I eventually learned what God had in mind when He put that word on my heart.
This year, I tossed around a few ideas for words that, as I heard them, felt like they could make sense:
One – one task at a time, one master, one step, one book, etc.
Speak – speak life, speak up, speak slow, speak truth
The word that I couldn’t shake though was FREE.
One day, I sat down to study the passages that reference the word free. I’ll share a bunch of those verses below, but I also picked up the book I was currently reading, The Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindoll and the very next 10 lines that awaited me had the word FREE FIFTEEN TIMES. Here’s just a portion:
All who embrace grace become “free indeed.” Free from what? Free from oneself. Free from guilt and shame. Free from the damnable impulses I couldn’t stop when I was in bondage to sin. Free from the tyranny of others’ opinions, expectations, demands. And free to what? Free to obey. Free to love. Free to forgive others as well as myself. Free to allow others to be who they are–different from me! Free to live beyond the limitations of human effort. Free to serve and glorify Christ.
The craziest part is I was tuned out for the first few lines and maybe by the 5th “FREE” it hit me. Ummmm. This is exactly what I was thinking about. And I’m humbled by the sheer generosity of God to put these moments in my path. I was picking the word FREE without this big gesture so to give these graces where you can know God sees you is just so incredible.
I love how this quote summed up so many of my feelings. I am free indeed but I live under the yoke of slavery more than you would think. I want to enjoy the full extent of God’s grace, not so I can go on sinning but to stop trying to earn a gift God gives freely. The weight is too much to bear and it’s not something God asks me to carry.
- my old self which Christ has made new
- pressure to meet expectations of who others think I’m supposed to be
- crushing insecurities that zap my ability to be present
- to do’s that I make a 10 and are really a 2
- extra things that keep me buried in tidying
- bitterness and resentment
- a judgmental spirit that leads to pride
- Satan’s thumb as I believe his lies
- legalism and adding rules where God gives freedom
- see a to-do list as an opportunity and not crushing defeat if it’s not done
- see goals as a fun way to grow closer to God and not the means of my salvation
- rest without feeling like it’s a weakness
Why is it important to live FREE? I feel more nimble in my life to follow after God without all the baggage I tend to bring to it. I bring doubts and insecurities. I bring heavy expectations on myself. I bring fear of uncertainty. And the thing is, because of Jesus’ death on the cross, I’m actually free. It’s hard to not get annoyed with myself for not living like it! But then I pause, and living free means letting go of that too and staying present with the Lord.
A few months ago, I was hit with the realization: I used to be fun. And maybe free is the overly spiritual version of fun. It’s light on your toes. It’s the opposite of the guy who gets trapped in a terrible job because now he has two car loans, a mortgage and kids in private school. It’s the opposite of the kid who needs their 4 stuffed animals, 3 books, 2 songs and 1 long prayer to fall asleep. It’s the opposite of American girl who needs her chocolate, Lacroix, pillow, stack of books, comfy blanket and sunglasses for a long road trip.
With all our comforts, it’s easy for the things we think make us comfortable and give us a good life to be the things that make us feel trapped. Because we can’t survive well without them. And maybe that’s a whole different direction when we talk about the word FREE, but for me, it’s a part of it. Light and nimble. Free and fun. Not because I have all my required accoutrements to survive but because I’ve got the grace of God and that’s all I really need.
Here are some verses I’m tucking away as I learn to live FREE.
- John 8:32-36 – And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. Truth sets us free.
- Galatians 5:1 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Free from slavery.
- Romans 6:22-23 – But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Free from the wages of sin.
- 2 Corinthians 3:17 – Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. Free to access God.
- Hebrews 12:1 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Free to run.
- Ephesians 2:8-10 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Can’t take credit or be burdened by it.
- Psalm 118:5 – Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. God is the one to turn to who sets me free.
- 1 Peter 2:16 – Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Living free doesn’t mean reveling in sin.
- Galatians 2:4 – Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery. Don’t let others enslave you.
Do you have a word for the year picked already? Share it below! If you don’t have one yet, head to Insta to see some tips for picking your word!
COMING UP NEXT:
- 40 Books for 2024