My Word of the Year is ‘satisfied’
I am in pursuit of a vision for the year. Last week, I easily laid before you my writing goals — which I called “cards” that I am requesting from God the Dealer in ’21. (That post linked here, if you missed it.)
But I failed to put forth my vision for the year because I mistook goals for vision. Vision, according to Jenny Kochert, co-founder of FlourishWriters, says vision is having “peace, clarity, encouragement and direction” for the future.
Vision reveals where we should put our energy, enables us to stay focused and make good decisions, gives us boundaries, and directs our path. Vision is the why driving our desire to achieve goals. (I think.)
(I am determining my vision, goals, and action steps by thoughtful planning. It’s challenging. I tend to be a “pantser” in my writing efforts, meaning I “fly by the seat of my pants,” in contrast to being a “planner,” which is just as it sounds. Planning will be my key to making the most of my FlourishWriters Academy experience this year; I believe God led me to the academy to write a book this year.)
FlourishWriters co-founder Mindy Kiker did a podcast titled “Guided by Vision in Your Writing Life,” in which she mentioned that my “Word of the Year” might help me find my vision. I hadn’t planned to choose a word this year, but as soon as Mindy said it, I realized I had been considering words such as enough or sufficient or satisfied as part of my message.
It started in December when I had been preparing for 2021 in the FlourishWriters Academy. As I had reflected on the message I felt I had in my heart, I had written this about God:
What has He done for me? He has been my husband when I lost mine. He has made me satisfied with Him when my life’s dreams and expectations were thwarted. He allowed me to cling to Him when life got hard and endless. He loved me when I held my heart close for fear Satan would attack me and hurt me even more. For years and years.
He is loving, forgiving, strengthening, encouraging, loving, and joy. He makes me laugh, feel awe, feel inspiration, admiration, and more. You can know Him too. God is enough. He can lead and direct you. He can hold your hand. He can make you feel love, confidence, direction, passion.
I want to be a conduit of His love and hope for others. Life is hard and will get harder. He is enough.
When I say that “God is enough,” I mean that He can satisfy the deepest longings of our heart. He alone can fill the “God-shaped hole or vacuum” attributed (incorrectly) as a quote by the French philosopher and mathematician Blaise Pascal in the 1600s. What he really said in his Pensees was even better:
“This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”Blaise Pascal, Pensees (New York; Penguin Books, 1966)
Pascal didn’t say we have a God-shaped hole or a God-shaped vacuum. He said we have an infinite abyss that can only be filled with God Himself. We have a God-shaped abyss.
In short, God alone can satisfy. I believe that. I have experienced that — and I am learning that. One day I hope to live that fully. I hope to also live (and write) in such a way that I can share that truth with others. Therefore, I am choosing “satisfied” as my word of the year.
As I consider being satisfied, three things cross my mind:
- What Job experienced with God
- What I have in God
- What I have in my closet (so spiritual, right?)
Let me explain.
What Job experienced with God
Perhaps because my high school English teacher — in public school — had taught the book of Job in the Bible as literature, I chose to include it in my curriculum when I taught 11th and 12th grade English.
If you haven’t read the book of Job, it’s an Old Testament story about a man named Job. God parades Job’s goodness in front of Satan, and Satan says Job is only good because he has everything he needs: good health, a wife and children, and much wealth in the form of livestock, land, and more.
So God to prove Job is truly good, He gives the devil permission to take away everything except Job’s life. Satan does. And Job proves God right. He is good. (He wonders why he’s being tormented, declares he doesn’t deserve it, curses the day he was born, but he never forsakes God.)
But I was never satisfied with the book of Job. Though Job never sinned despite all the loss he experienced, he asked a lot of questions. He demanded answers. Of God. And God never answers him. Not really.
The last year I taught Job, I invited a local youth pastor to teach this part of the book. This is how Pastor Asa explained it:
He was single and he wrote in large letters on the white board all the arguments he had for remaining single:
- He likes his freedom.
- He barely has enough money to spend on himself; he wouldn’t want to have to cover someone else’s expenses too.
- He is too young.
- He would have to find a woman who shares his high demand for coffee.
Then he pointed to me, the only married person in the class, to complete his example.
“How many of these arguments did you consider when you got married?” Asa asked me.
“Actually, none of them mattered once I met Steve,” I responded.
“Exactly,” Asa said, as he rewrote the arguments much smaller and then wrote the word LOVE in huge capital letters beneath them. “That’s because it suddenly became personal. All those little questions and arguments you once had no longer mattered in the presence of your husband.”
That is what happened to Job. God showed up. God showed Himself, and it became personal to Job. The questions didn’t go away, Asa said, they just shrank in light of who God was, as evidenced in Job’s own words:
“My ears had heard of youJob 42:5-6, NIV
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
God showed up. Job was satisfied. But God still didn’t answer why. Why?
Because faith isn’t faith if you have all the answers. Dictonary.com defines faith in this way:
1. confidence or trust in a person or thing;
2. belief that is not based on proof.
When Asa pointed out that rather obvious point, I realized that I had had my Job-like moments in life and that, as I walked through them (and, no, I didn’t mimic Job and sit in ashes), I discovered that God was enough. He was so “enough” that I didn’t need my “why” answered, and those past experiences definitely increased my faith.
What I have in God
When I was in college, I participated in Campus Crusade for Christ, now known as Cru on campuses. I learned many truths, including this passage in 2 Peter:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord,
for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
Through these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world on account of lust.2 Peter 1:2-4, NASB
Verse 3’s “for His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness” gripped me at the time, not so much the message that I should be satisfied with God but that He has equipped me with everything I need to live for Him.
In other words, I should move forward toward the vision because I am equipped to do whatever He calls me to do. God hasn’t left me lacking. He has equipped me for His call. I can be satisfied with how He has made me and what He has granted me pertaining to life and godliness.
Recently, I heard this quote by theologian John Piper:
“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
I want to glorify God. I want to be most satisfied in Him.
What I have in my closet
I realize that the heading might suggest I am about to reveal a skeleton. Not so much. In what might seem a superficial extension of my desire to be satisfied with God, I am thinking of what I have in my closet — my belongings. My husband and I have considered downsizing to a smaller home — as our current one was big enough for seven and now we are two.
But the thought of all the stuff stuffed into closets and cabinets and dressers and drawers? Enough of a deterrent that my husband declared we’ll stay here until we die and let the kids take care of it.
(With a well-placed match, I imagine.)
But I want to do something about it, even if “doing something” means doing nothing. As in doing no buying — of clothes. I have more than I need. Two closets testify to that.
I have skinny clothes, fat clothes, and middle-sized clothes. I have clothes for work and play, for warmth and cold, and plenty of jewelry and accessories to go with them all. Yet, I can think of what I don’t have, what I think I must have, and then manage to perseverate on that elusive item, waste time shopping online, and finally make a purchase only to be dissatisfied.
I waste time, mental energy, and money. I want to rein in my clothing purchases in 2021. Be satisfied with what I already have. Make do (with the abundance I have). And remember that being clothed in His righteousness is more important than the perfect outfit.
I will rejoice greatly in the Lord,Isaiah 61:10a, NASB
My soul will be joyful in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness, (Isaiah 61:10a)
Job’s complete satisfaction in the presence of God reminds me of many moments in my life when I have chosen to pursue God, chosen to trust Him and be satisfied with Him — and found Him to be all I needed.
In my reflections about the message on my heart that I recorded above, I mentioned the time when God was “my husband when I lost mine.” In 1991, at age 26, I was widowed. Nearly three years later, I remained single, and it seemed my heart’s desire — marriage, children — was thwarted forever.
I chose God as my husband. In a journal entry, after the “final” prospective man in my life left, I wrote this prayer:
“In a way I’m glad because my heart longs for you. I’m trying to search for you — but men do get in the way… Lord, change my heart. Help me to seek after you merely because I believe you are the best and want the best for me.”
(If you want the full story, I capture it here.)
The short story is that I satisfied myself in God — and He gave me a husband, anyway. And children! Four — ages 9, 8, 5, and 3 — at one time. The very day I determined to be satisfied with God as my husband.
May I be most satisfied in Him so He can be most glorified in me.
The problem I have, and perhaps you share it, is that I tend to forget that God is present and that only He satisfies. Instead, I look at what’s in front of me (or creeping behind me or menacing beside me) and forget where my strength and joy and, yes, satisfaction, lay.
My vision for writing this year is to first live in God’s presence and experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. And then from that wealth, share the story — stories — that will help others understand, desire, and seek God as a way of life, too.
Dear Reader, we can live in the presence of God, fully satisfied, no matter what is happening around us or to us.
Now, how to capture that in a book of fiction? Any ideas?