Thursday, December 30, 2021

My Word for 2022: Refuge

This is the third year that I've sought a "word". My past two words ("Isaiah 40" and "Come"), have been amazing! It has been a blessing to have this kind of reminder and anchor throughout the year. "Come" has really been fitting for me in 2021 as I've stepped forward into the things God has been inviting me into. There has been so much growth and blessings!

For this year, I really wasn't sure how to begin discovering my new word. Though, I knew I could trust the fact that if I sought and pursued the Lord, I would find it (Isaiah 55:6, Matthew 7:7-8, Luke 11:9-10). In my mind, that blank drawing board felt a little daunting. Yet, I had to remind myself that it wasn't up to me to manufacture anything or pull something out of thin air. Even so, I still initially tried to grab at a word that I "thought" might fit, but it didn't fully resonate or feel legit. It clearly wasn't what God had in mind (another lesson learned from that Christine Caine video I re-watched recently). God took me in the direction that He wanted; just like He always does. Prayer, fasting, journaling, singing/worshiping, and having my five senses alert and aware is what makes it possible for me to hear from God through all the noise of life. You really do just have to be "be still" and "wait on the Lord". You'll find Him (and He'll find YOU) in your daily business and choose seemingly random and sudden moments to pop up and stand out.

The first sudden "pop up" came when I was listening to an audio book during my work commute. The book is "Uninvited: Living Loved when You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely" by Lysa Terkeurst. This book has been an amazing read for me for so many reasons; and I HIGHLY and strongly recommend it if you've ever struggled with the things in that title (and who hasn't?!). Not coincidentally, the content has echoed a good portion of that Christine Caine video. Though, this fact alone wasn't the BIG "pop up". It was when the narrator started reciting verses from Psalm 34. Every time I heard her say "Psalm 34" I felt that sacred pause within me. "Wait! Psalm 34? Why does this feel particularly significant?" I knew there had to be a reason and I couldn't wait to read it in its entirety and find out why!

When I read it, the familiarity triggered me again. I felt that I had journaled this a few months ago. That's where my precious and priceless blue notebook comes in (see side post about how vital my notebooks have become to me). I leafed backwards in time to the page dated May 20, 2021. Right there on the page, I had written "Psalm 34"! WOW! I was amazed; but also could have sworn that it was a different Psalm (and that it possibly started or ended with a "7"). It didn't sound like the Psalm I remembered reading at that time. The Psalm had perfectly spoken to my heart regarding the events that were about to unfold the next day. Oh, well. It said Psalm 34 so I took my own word for it. Had I actually READ my notes/paraphrases following that "Psalm 34" that I wrote down, I would have realized why...but more on that later.

So, now I had my two signs; that initial mention that stood out to me, and my own mention from a few months before. I figured that this was likely where I was supposed to focus, but I like to go for "3" to be sure. Wouldn't you know, I got my third as I was scrolling through my feed and saw that one of my brothers in Christ posted something. Within that post, he shared a and it came from Psalm 34 (verse 18, to be specific). Hallelujah!

Of course, the work wasn't complete yet. I was wondering whether I was going to get a single word from it, or if it was going to be like when I got "Isaiah 40" (which I also pulled some sub-words from). I sensed it would be one word. So, I just kept reading it and walking through the process. The one thing that I knew was that I loved this Psalm! I felt seen, loved, protected, safe, and secure in Christ. It is VERY comforting and EXACTLY what I've been needing! I even found a Psalm 34 song from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir on YouTube to add to my "HeartSpeak" playlists that I make each month.

My next "pop up" came as I was listening to the book again. It happened when she said the word "refuge." My spirit paused within me again and I was like, "Is this it? Is this my word?" The word DOES show up within the Psalm and basically sums it up. Once again, I wanted to be sure, so I waited for another "pop up". It came in one of the typical "pop up" ways that I've been getting used to. When I see a number that strikes me as unusual or significant, I look it up in the Bible app to see what chapters and verses correspond with it; and there's always a verse that tends to stand out. The number can be anything from the time on a clock, a total on a receipt, an amount in my bank account, etc. This time, the number came from $17.77. When I saw it, I knew I'd have to look up 17:7 in the Bible app. I'm telling you, sometimes it feels like a Bob Barker "The Price is Right" moment where he's teasing the contestant right before the big reveal of something to see if it's there and then they win. I was anticipating this win; feeling strongly that within these 17:7's, the word "refuge" would appear.

As I scrolled down the list, I came to Psalm 17:7 which read:

Show me your unfailing love in wonderful ways. By your mighty power you rescue those who seek refuge from their enemies.

*Cue the game show "dings" for the big winner!*

Whoomp, there it is!! I was jumping up and down in my mind as the word lit up in huge neon lights and the canons of streamers and confetti exploded!!!

As a bonus prize, these two verses spoke straight to my heart as well:

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence - Jeremiah 17:7.
Then at last the people will look to their Creator and turn their eyes to the Holy One of Israel. - Isaiah 17:7.

"Well, that's a wrap!" I thought. However (in addition to diving into the concordance on Bible Hub) there was one more hidden "Easter egg" so to speak. While revisiting my blue notebook entry again, I was just in awe of how Psalm 34 was right there; but it still seemed weird. I started reading my notes and realized it wasn't describing Psalm 34! I typed in some of the words in my Bible app and saw that what I was describing was Psalm 37!! By golly, I remembered right! It DID have a 7 in it (whoa, what's with all these 7's lol?). I don't know why the Melissa in May wrote down Psalm 34 when she clearly meant to write down Psalm 37 (and I had even posted about its significance at the time), but GOD knew!! HE KNEW! What an AMAZING example of how He works everything out for good for those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). I made a mistake when I wrote down the wrong number, but He turned it into the RIGHT number at the RIGHT TIME for HIS purpose! What a wonderful and simple way to show me how redeemable and transformable I am in His hands! He really does take my mess and make things new and beautiful!

As blessed as this word is, and all the comfort and security it brings me, I feel there is a bigger reason for it. However, I won't taint this post with doom and gloom with some of the things that I'm sensing in my spirit. I'm going to cling to this word and marinate in Psalm 34. I don't want to get ahead of things or anticipate things that are unclear or may not even be a possibility. However, I know that I need to be prepared, vigilant, and prayed up for whatever may come. Jesus said there would be trouble; it's inevitable. BUT, He has overcome it all and there's no reason to worry (John 16:33). Even if what I sense does come to pass, no amount of preparation or premature grieving will help it or stop it. He is MY refuge! He's my safe place; my security, protection, and provision. All my hope, faith, and trust is in Him; always. He has already gotten me through many dark times. He'll never abandon me and He'll always walk through the fire WITH me to the other side! He's demonstrated His faithfulness over and over again to me. I believe Him. I trust Him!

Grace and peace to you, my friends! May His blessings and favor be poured out on you and your family in the coming year! May His hand of protection be on you and His angels surround you! God bless you always!