A few years ago, a friend shared something that struck me. This friend said that each New Years Day she puts a yearly theme or focus and a corresponding verse in the front cover of her Bible. The idea is to keep something in focus that the Spirit impresses upon us for the year to come. As we consider the year ahead, surely there’s value in the question: “Father, what from your Word do you wish to impress upon me this year?”

Now if I’m being honest, I have the attention span of a goldfish. I can only speak for myself, but my guess is more likely than not some of you can relate. The thought of keeping a yearly theme in mind over the course of 365 days might seem like a daunting task. And I’ll readily admit that after putting this into practice, my focus has easily drifted for months at a time. But when I stopped to consider this discipline, I realized that the intention was not to make another task. But rather, to keep focus on the Lord and what He desires to do and is doing in my life. Regardless of whether you feel compelled to adopt this sort of thing as a yearly discipline, it’s worth asking the question for 2023. What does the Holy Spirit desire to impress upon you? As you take stock of your life, whatever your situation may be, what might God want you to take to heart this year?

I’ll share with you what I have in my Bible cover from years’ past: “2020: Steadfast – 1 Cor. 15:58; 2021: Rest – Heb. 4:10; 2022: Maturity – Eph. 4:13-15.” I share these themes not to give you some “falsified sense of my own spirituality” but rather to point you to the Living God Who works through His Word! I look back and marvel at what God has done! Steadfastness and immovability in the victory of Christ proved to be an important focus in 2020, especially that March and the months to follow. And by New Year’s 2021, Rest in the completeness of Gospel was desperately needed for me personally as I was beginning the final stretch of seminary coursework. Looking back, it seems like rest was so fitting for the people of God as we dealt with life in our culture that was ablaze with animosity around issues such as COVID, race relations, and a presidential election.

And finally, you’ll notice that this past year my theme was “maturity.” Those who really know me might say something like, “Still a long way to go!” (it’d be hard to argue!) But again, I chose this theme last January (2022.) It’s only fitting, and a bit striking, that in the fall Emmaus decided to go through the letters to Timothy for a sermon series focused on “Moving on to Maturity.” I don’t intend to over-spiritualize, yet the Holy Spirit really does move, doesn’t He?!

God really does work through His Word. Since we have “moving on to maturity” on our minds as we continue the series into 2023, consider Ephesians 4:13-15. It says, “until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ,” These are good words. And He’s working through His Word.

As I take stock of life in 2023, the word that continues to come to mind is Trust. Proverbs 3:5-6 is a highlightable verse for a reason. You probably know it well. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him,and He will make straight your paths.” The beauty of trusting God is not that we ourselves demonstrate a deep trust in Him, but that He’s proven Himself trustworthy. I’ll admit, I’m preaching to myself too. My family has a lot of uncertainty ahead of us in 2023. Yet, God remains trustworthy. This is why Trust will be my word for 2023. And it’s a good word for all of us.

What might yours be? As you think about your life in the year to come, perhaps it’s worth asking the question, “Father, what from Your Word do You wish to impress upon me this year?” In all things, set your focus on the Living God! Consider what He has for you in His Word in 2023!

Happy New Year!

Alex Woodworth