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.
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.