A few months ago I began to wonder about my “word” for the year, “enjoy.” I was questioning why God gave me that word. Usually by early Fall I’ve recognized why God gave me the word and have seen His Hand at work within the definition of the year’s word. Honestly, I wasn’t seeing anything in the year that really stood out past the every day, ordinary pleasures of life and ministry. I enjoyed visiting many people, other countries and the Eiffel Tower, of course. But none of that rang out as extraordinary to enjoy. Those were experiences I enjoyed, yes, but they were physical manifestations of joy and not spiritual. There’s nothing wrong with physical joy but I was looking for something deeper with more impact on my life.
I looked up the definition of enjoy and I was reminded that the root, “en,” means “to be in.” So enjoy means “to be in joy.” Lightbulb. Encouragement Expeditions was founded to bring others encouragement (to be in+courage) and joy. I’ve been living the definition of enjoy all year. Not just with those I met on the mission field in Cameroon, Mali, Nevada and California but with friends and family, too.
I was also reminded last summer that God wants me to use the gift of encouragement not just in my ministry but in my every day life. I redefined my life from that point on to try to be an encouragement to those I interact with on a daily basis. Whether it’s ladies at a jewelry show, the clerk at the store, a friend, etc. God opened my eyes that every person I see I now see through His eyes. Does that make everyone nice and easy to love? Nope. But it gives me a perspective I haven’t quite had before. People are flawed. Not by God’s Hand but by sin. (So am I.) But that doesn’t mean I have to mean or nasty back at them. I might be the only person that day that represents Christ in their day.
I sit here now at the end of the year reflecting on “enjoy” and how it applied to 2016. In great joy I can say I experienced several deepened relationships with family members and friends. I made some new lifelong friends on the mission field that bring me joy when I pray for them and think of them often. I enjoyed learning a new business that gives me the opportunity to tell more people about this ministry. I enjoyed learning and growing spiritually through some really tough stuff. I didn’t enjoy those things at the time but looking back (there’s that life verse, Isaiah 55:8, in play) I’m thankful for what God did and taught and that brings me joy.
I’m sure most of you reading this didn’t have enjoy as your word for the year. Regardless, I encourage you to look back on 2016 and think about what you enjoyed. And then look forward to 2017 with the goal to be an encouragement in your words and actions to each person you encounter every day. The world needs some positive people! Allow God to use you!
Happy New Year!
P.S. If you’re wondering what my word for 2017 is it’s “promise.”