Thesaurus entry for OBEY
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Word of the Year 2020: OBEY

Yep. That’s my word for 2020. OBEY.

Possibly the least uplifting word anyone’s ever had as their theme for the year.⁣⁣

I mean, seriously. I’ve been doing this for years and had words like RISE and BRAVE and WONDER. Major transformational aspirations.⁣⁣

So when this one came to me, I refused to accept it for weeks, until there were so many confirmations that I couldn’t not.⁣⁣

The word chafes, doesn’t it? Even if we want to obey God, our first response is still a fleshly, worldly, toddlery NO.⁣⁣

I wrestled with it, going to the thesaurus for a more palatable synonym, then going super nerd and checking the Biblical etymology.⁣⁣

Turns out there’s no direct Hebrew word for “obey.” There’s only shema, which translates as “to hear, attend, and respond.”⁣⁣

As in, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” [Deut 6:4-5]⁣⁣


“SHEMA, people of God: God is love, and if you accept that, you’ll love him with all you have.”⁣⁣

That’s when it clicked.⁣⁣

My word of the year isn’t OBEY. My word of the year is SHEMA.⁣⁣

Shema: hear and attend and respond

More specifically, to have a shema lev, a heart intent on hearing and responding to God’s voice.⁣⁣

That means acting on Holy Spirit nudges I usually ignore. Rising to the challenge of spirit over flesh. Being brave enough to trust God. Standing in wonder of the ripple effects of joyful obedience.⁣

Listening instead of just hearing.⁣

Maybe shema isn’t the sexiest theme for 2020. But it thrills my soul in a way no word before ever has.

Because to listen is to love—and I love Him.⁣

Speak, Lord, so I can hear.

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