Every year, since I was seventeen, I’ve made it a practice.
The day after Christmas until the New Year, I ask for a word.
It’s always tucked inside the envelope of Bible verse. It might come to me through a lyric of a song, or like a dandelion wafting through the air, a thought somehow snags on a blade of an everyday moment.
I may be sliding julienned leaves of bok choy from my cutting board, damp from washing, into a hot oil-dancing frying pan. I could be staring into a stretch of freeway, as I exit to pause at a traffic light.
I don’t know when that one word will come.
But, I always wait for it to arrive. I’m eager to open it — to find the note God will place on my soul for the year.
But, it’s 2013.
And I don’t have very many words as it is.
Do I even want a one word soul resolution this year?
If there ever was a time in my life I really needed a word from God, but felt too weary to receive it, this would be it.
Do you feel burdened to search your soul for more words?
Maybe you’ve strained to hear God speak for so long, you’re no longer sure if it’s the wind or His whisper.
Maybe you’re afraid to seek His words, because to recognize your desire — or the silence — would be too hard to bear.
Maybe you don’t want to ask any more questions.
Either way, fellow faith traveller, you and I carry the same longing.
We want to receive one word from Jesus.
I Don’t Know
I have to confess that I did receive my word for 2013. But, I haven’t felt adequate enough to share it with you.
Because I don’t know if I can live it out fully.
I can’t even fall asleep reliably or write without deleting lines and whole paragraphs, even though I once wrote with abandon, prolifically. Daily.
When I compare myself with what I’ve been able to do in the past — to what I can do now — I feel small. Insignificant.
I no longer want to write about it.
Because I feel I have very little to offer.
Then one night, I read a bedtime Bible story to my three year CJ.
As I sat on the floor, with my back leaning against the bed and a squirmy preschooler perched on my lap, I come across a chapter in the life of Elisha.
He meets a woman who owed a great debt, who did not have the means to pay it.
She had nothing.
Except for a jar of oil.
A Little Oil
The scripture says she came crying to Elisha because her husband was dead. If she could not pay the creditor, he would take her sons to become his slaves.
Elisha asked her, “Do you own anything?”
I have nothing in the house, she answers. Except a little oil.
It surprised me, but I heard my voice in the widow’s answer. I have nothing to offer…
Is that true? Jesus seemed to gently ask.
How about that little oil?
I immediately thought of my writing and my one word.
How can I write anything of importance, when my journey feels so broken and un-newsworthy?
Maybe you feel this way about your “little oil”.
Is there a desire God’s placed on your heart, but you’ve not dared to move — because you feel your ability to meet that passion was too “little”?
When we don’t know how to meet our needs with what little we have, we can become frozen in our inadequacy.
Fight, Flight, or Frozen
In trauma work, they say our response to danger is fight or flight. We can become utterly consumed with fighting our way to secure the dream we’ve envisioned, we can end up stressed, striving to achieve it.
Or we can be flooded with fears. We can run away, to escape the encounter and avoid the ensuing conflicts that surely come with breaking free from what troubles us.
But, there’s a third response.
We can become frozen. We can become so analytical about problem solving and overwhelmed by our conflicting emotions, we no longer feel. We numb ourselves from our wounds and our desires.
We go into survival mode: we perform and we produce.
As I read ahead in The Beginner’s Bible to my little one, I knew this story was coming alive for me this week:
Elisha said, “Gather some empty jars from your friends.
Then go inside and pour your oil in them.”
The woman obeyed and God made her tiny bit of oil fill all the jars.
She sold all the oil and paid the man back. She took care of her family with the leftover money.
2 Kings 4:17
Gathering Empty Jars
Gather some empty jars from your friends.
I thought about our weekly Thursday blog link up — what I call Faith Jams — before my writing became captive in post-traumatic stress. We’ve walked beside each other, you and I, for two years, one writing prompt at a time. We’ve swapped stories, as we write about our faith journeys, over virtual cups of coffee and tea.
I went back to read the One Words we shared in 2012 and 2011. As I clicked through your soul-inspiring blog posts, I understood the beauty of what we’ve been offering to each other.
We offered empty jars to each other.
We poured what little oil we had — out of the journeys of faith we have been living.
No one knows where the faith journey will lead us. But, by blogging together, we are gathering the empty jars of our souls and sharing the little oil — words from the Holy Spirit — that God places along our path.
So, tonight as I’m writing this post, I’m wondering if you’re feeling the stir to share your little oil — the one word God’s placed on your heart — in community too?
Will you write alongside me — whether you’re brimming with words overflowing or whether like me, the words have been too few and you’ve been holding your words too close because you’ve been afraid to let them go?
Perhaps by pouring our words into each other, we’ll find the Holy Spirit miraculously filling us up with more than we started out with.
Give Voice Next Thursday
We’ll read each other’s journeys and find the Voice of Love, Jesus, touching us a little deeper, with a lot more grace and gentleness than we thought possible.
In the same way the sun pulls petals of flowers to turn towards its golden descent at dusk in the sky, we can simply give voice to the words we hear.
What is your One Word for 2013?
Sshh… don’t tell me yours just yet. I’ll be sharing mine with you next Thursday 1/10.
I’m inviting you to write a post on your blog, publish and link up with me at the end of next Thursday too. (Click here to read more about it.)
It’s my first Faith Jam blog link-up in months.
And I’m so grateful we can give voice to our first words in the new year.
What is the “little oil” — the desire — God’s placed on your heart to pour out?
How is God encouraging you to give voice to the journey you’re traveling through?
Pull up a chair. Click here to comment. As you share, you’ll be pouring a little oil here.
Psst… For an extra shot of encouragement for the faith journey, hop on over to one of my dearest friend Holley Gerth’s Heart to Heart blog. Holley’s starting a God-sized Dream series and she just launched a soul-easing new e-book Do What You Can: 21 Days To Making Any Area of Your Life Better.
** Don’t miss! ** If you are new to Faith Barista, I’d like welcome you here.Click to subscribe by email and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.
Photo credit: newbeginnings2 via Photobucket.
I’m offering my journey through brokenness on my blog in hopes that it might speak to someone’s heart about God’s desire to be whole. Im fighting the fear and panic attacks by sharing so someone else doesn’t have to be afraid to be afraid to seek their healing. Btw I started my book and I definitely came to the page with little oil.
You’re walking on a path of courage, because it takes more faith to pour with a little oil trusting God will fill the jars. Thank you Melinda for blessing us here with your words!
I have been praying for my word for this year.
word “acceptance” in serenity prayer
I am a writer also.. and want to share with others who have chronic health issues and live in the slower lane of life as our spirits soar inwardly like an eagle.. rising above….
What a beautiful path you’re walking by faith, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing your prayer here with us.
Hi Bonnie! I was so happy to see a post from you in my feed reader, this morning. You’ve been in my prayers, because we are walking similar routes — paths of re-surging anxiety and depression, though for different reasons. But I wanted to encourage you this morning that God is faithful. I’m out of the fog for a moment today, and as I look back on the past year, I see that God was winding me through a purposefully thorny path so that I could begin to become an even better version of me. He also revealed Himself to me in different ways than ever before. He is at work, tempering and healing your heart bit by bit, perhaps working in ways you’ve never seen Him work before, but all because His purpose for you is so great. He is with you in your grief and He has great plans for you. He weeps with you, rejoices over you with singing, and will very soon fill your heart with greater joy than you’ve ever before experienced. It is hard… but keep on fighting. 🙂
Oh, DolceKimchi! Thank you for standing by me and encouraging me with your journey. Your prayers, oh so precious. Mine are with you too, as I think of your path and the words you’ve shared.
My word is “song”. I’m not sure what God is going to show me or do in or through me.
A song. Annie. Thank you, Jesus. Please continue to shine your light on her path.
Bonnie, it is so great to hear from you and hear the hopeful tone in your voice. I have tought much lately about PTS and having been through that, I keep praying for comfort. I cannot wait to hear what your word for 2013 is. Have a beautiful day!
Angie! What a gift you are, speaking from your heart on this journey!
Oh, I am excited for the first Faith Jam of 2013. I want to link up. And I look forward to what one word you received. I have mine too. I love that we can pour the little oil we each have and offer encouragement to one another through the love of Jesus. I’m still praying for you Bonnie.
Blessings and love,
Thank you, Debbie! I can’t wait to hear yours! Keeping prayer with you, friend!
Bonnie, That is a great spiritual insight about trusting God with the empty jars. Right now, many people are experiencing empty in many ways. I do believe the one word we need is HOPE. Life seems to be so tough in many areas. God promises us strength and hope. Personally, I need that as I am having chemo due to cancer. Hang tough..we can do all things in Christ who gives us strength!
“Trusting God with the empty jars…” Dear Frances, I pray right now Lord Jesus for your words to wrap around my friend’s heart as she enters deeper into her journey through cancer. Let your confidence be her place of rest, as she surrenders her body to the treatments of chemo. Bring her through this process, more aware of her belovedness and safety in you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
[…] as Bonnie suggests, I’m going to let God choose my word for me this year. He, alone, can lead me along green […]
Bonnie – your “little oil” is full of healing and encouragement to this one soul. Thank you pouring it out in your beautiful words.
Thank you, Susan, for stopping by to pour words of encouragement to my soul. *hugs*
“When I compare myself with what I’ve been able to do in the past — to what I can do now — I feel small. Insignificant.”
Those words…I know ALL TOO WELL.
My prayer for you is that each new day will reveal more of the promise and the hope that He has placed in you…that you will become a little less frozen in the moment and thawed to the new life He is stirring in you. I pray that striving will cease, that effort will fade away into the relentless arms of the Father’s love and grace as HE does the work and makes the oil you offer into something MORE than you could ever see!
I was so happy to read you’ll be starting up your Thursday Faith Jam sessions. I honestly was just thinking about them yesterday and wondering when you’d be starting them again. 🙂
I love stopping by….. you may not think you are writing well, or you’re too broken or nothing is newsworthy. However, I believe by sharing your heart, especially this post today, your writing is more meaningful than ever. When you share your heart it touches ours.
Love to you,
You have poured much oil into my jar from this post.
“…to find the note God will place on my soul for the year.” It is easy to forget that He is the one who gives the word when the word is a struggle.
My words last year seemed to fall to the earth and produce nothing.
I really didn’t want a word for this year, but, I was listening to a podcast and the word seemed to zing in front of me having nothing to do with what my ears were hearing. So I have a word. I bought a notebook and I wrote my word and wait.
I was about to give up on blogging too, but I’m now going to find an empty jar and leave it here by my computer to remind me of your words and the hope in them.
Bonnie, it is so good to read your words today, this story of the widow’s oil has long inspired me to believe God will do much with the little I have to offer. Thanks for sharing with us as this new year begins.
Excited to find you in my inbox, this morning, Bonnie! I love the concept of sharing our empty jars and letting God multiply our little oil. I think most of us feel we have an inadequate amount of oil. However, God can and does do amazing things with our little. Looking forward to linking with you again on Thursdays. Blessings, my Friend.
So glad you’re “back” and bringing us back together!!!!! I’ve missed you. I’ve missed Faith Jams. I’ve missed writing prompts. I’m looking forward to more interaction with you and this community in 2013.
Thanks for bringing even more joy to my day!
I woke up this morning to a feeling of dread, inadequecy asking myself how could God choose me for ministry. Afterall in an effort to ‘have fun’ and allieviate the ‘stress’ of being on leave and running the house without help, I convinced myself and my husband we should go out for a couple of beers. Yes me. The powerful woman of God who had signed up for pastoral studies. Who had dreamed up the concept of a woman’s ministry and how i’d seek funding from the EU for a ministry without borders. How I had the support of a local pastor who has beein in ministry for more than 20 years and felt he could mentor and gro my calling. Now here I was hung over but moreso upset at myself. The me who had declared 2013 my year of obedience. The me who spent new year in a night vigil church sevice. And at the height of my growth I get drunk. I woke up feeling inadequate and not God’s best. Like God, surely someone else is better. Me? I’m too worthless.
I just want to tell you …your posts have been such a huge influence in me “keeping it real” and sharing from the depths of my anxiety and worry and fears — along with God’s sweet, gentle hand of mercy into those moments. You helped give me “voice” and poured oil in my “jar” so that I could have courage to let those words come out and be published out there over the internet 🙂 I, too, end up with the “frozen” response — no fight or flight — just frozen so many times. I feel less confident that ever before and yet God seems to be calling me out more than ever before ! (great combination, huh !! 🙂 So …THANK YOU ! I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you and your honest words. I’m so sorry for the pain you’re going through with PTSS …so sorry … but I want you to know you are probably being used more than ever before to encourage others (like me !) in this messy, wonderful walk of faith ! May God heal you in your deepest places of your soul and restore you in ways you never , ever dreamed possible — as you have that deep, abiding trust in Him. Hugs ! ~ Joy
Thank you Bonnie for your words. I miss hearing from you as often as before, but I am praying for you and look forward to the words you do share, because they help me on my own journey.
Wow – I love your connection to that particular Scripture story and the empty jars of oil. I have been so busy with work that I have not had the time to blog or pursue an artwork project that I have been thinking about a lot over the past year. It is a blessing to have work, but I feel that God is calling me to more this year. And I need to get over feeling like less or not good enough. I don’t feel like I am nearly as talented as so many others out there, but I know God loves me exactly as I am and He can use me and all of us exactly where we are. We just have to let him. Thank you so much for your wonderful post.
You know Bonnie, I feel like my year ahead is more a phrase of key words rather than one specific word. He’s asking me to do a few things that all tie together in a moment….to calm, refocus, and progressively heal.
Bonnie I am pumped about this! Soo looking forward to another Faith Jam! Bless You!
Oh dearest Bonnie, I have been praying for you earnestly, since I so know what you are going through. I have done the fight, flight and frozen. Often I still do them. Other times I share and God moves the little I share. Your words continue to encourage me. My word….. well I wrote a small post about it already, but like you I feel I have very little to give. My word absolutely terrifies me.
Thank you so much for your words and the community you have hosted in your own coffee/tea house online. I look forward to linking in you you all. I love you friend.
Lovely words that wound their way around my own heart. Thank you for sharing about the Author of our stories…
Thanks Bonnie. I’ve been desperately looking for a new personal word from God, encouragement from Him, and motivation. He spoke through you today in a way that He will use to have me get back to making a positive impact for His Kingdom in others’ lives. For all those He uses me to make a positive impact for His Kingdom; know you are a part of that. Thanks. God uses you.
Your blog provides great amounts of oil to all who visit. I pour out my oil in my Christian arts!!! Sometimes, a particular piece may sit for months before the owner drops by and chooses it for their home, friend or family member. When I first opened my shop, I would become so discouraged when my art sat and sat, for I created it with such love and joy. But, as I my spirit grew in confidence, faith and patience, I learned that each piece is created for HIS glory and it will be placed where it belongs, in due time. There were so many folks who tried to discourage me from creating Christian art. Now, they did this out of love. You see, many of them thought that I couldn’t sell it and that I had to become more secular to be successful, but I held tight to HIS path and I am glad I did. Now, I’m no huge store, but I can hold my own. So, if anyone is discouraged and wondering about their next steps and journey, just hold fast to HIS hand, stay in HIS word, meditate on HIM, give HIM your heart and desires, and just see how great our GOD is…. Thank you, Bonnie, for this platform to share my “little oil” story. Blessings!
I don’t have a word to share, but I totally get that feeling of having nothing to offer, to have reached– or is it discovered?– my limitations.
or perhaps I was presumptuous in thinking that it was me in the first place? I have had moments of surprise when I got to see God minister to someone and I happened to be the one there. No planning, preparation, or premeditated stress on my part. Both a delightful relief and a humbling smallness at the same time. Moments of “effective ministry” were a delight too, but how much more could I have rested my soul in letting that anxiety go.
…still this, years simmering in the depths. I can’t say “I did xyz and then Happily Ever After”, but I can say “better than it was”.
Trusting God over this time. I guess that’s Faith!
I’m still waiting on my word. I am so glad faith jam is back — thank you!
I have been going thru such stress & had such an honest need to hear from God. This s.m. as I was barely waking, I heard the stillness of God’s voice say “I will strengthen u, it is that simple, I will help u. I will be Ur God.” I hope this little oil will encourage someone else.
Your open and honest sharing of the journey you find yourself walking is giving many others courage to use our own voices to speak our truth.
Bonnie, you have so much to offer. You are walking a hard path, but you’ve taken God’s hand and He is going before you. He hedges you in, protects you and catches you when you feel as though you cannot stay afloat. You have much oil to yet be poured out. Thank you for your bravery, honesty, and the grace with which you allow Him to move through you. I’ve been waiting for Faith Jam’s return. I knew God would whisper it to your heart, in His timing. May you continue to receive much healing as you write.
[…] So, when the time came for the year to draw to an end, I wondered what in the world would God tell me is my One Word for 2013. […]
so great to hear from you! I have been praying for you! I can identify with your anxiety and dread more than I’d care to admit! I am praying for your breakthrough! God does want us powerful not pitiful but it’s only through our weak moments – totally dependent on Him that we can become strong again. Health issues, doubts, fears, procrastination, perfectionism…ugh! These all make me freeze at times…but I keep on pressing on! I hope in your moments of doubt you hear His still, small voice and know that many in Christ are praying for you, too! God bless your 2013 to be victorious in Jesus Christ!
My word is “HOPE”! Our hope is all on the solid rock of Christ we stand! God bless you!
Want to try this but not sure where to put my link just yet. I guess I wait for Bonnie’s post on her “One Word?”
Yay Bonnie! I love the jars connection!! Can’t wait to share my word… And hear yours! You’re a blessing!!
Praying you are captured by our LORD’s gaze upon YOU today…His utter delight in YOU! That you will be overwhelmed with an assurance that HE is ABLE to keep you from falling…into fear, into paralysis, from the ‘what if’s” and “maybe’s”. You are HIS BRIDE and HE is YOUR BRIDEGROOM…HE IS YOUR SHIELD and YOUR REFUGE. Jesus has used your willingness to be vulnerable to aid me in stepping out of the chains that have falsely kept me in bondage by believing lies instead of HIS TRUTH. In answer to your blog “question” from today’s post: The LORD gave me song…when I first heard it at a live Christmas concert of Phillips, Craig and Dean a few weeks ago…I was captured. The lyrics say “Tell your heart to beat again……”. If you haven’t heard it yet…just do a online search…iTunes has it. I am telling my heart to trust HIM and HIS WORD….daily each moment, that HE IS WORTHY of my 110% trust and dependence. And THAT is when I will see that HE WILL do MORE than all I can ask or IMAGINE..beyond my wildest dreams. His ways are ALWAYS HIGHER than mine. A heap of blessings upon you and your sweet family today, Bonnie!
I loved this post. Yes, we often feel inadequate and not up to the task. But our God is a quantum God. He does not do things the way we expect and oftentimes can be out of sequence. In quantum physics you can have cause and effect, effect before the cause or effect with no cause. God can do all three quite easily. God can give you a word that you don’t feel you can live up to..BUT you will! God can label us something we have not yet attained because He knows we will attain it. Remember it is Christ within you that will do the work because we don’t have the power to do it ourselves.
This is also why we are instructed in the Bible that when we ask something of Him to already BELIEVE we have it! And to give thanks to Him for it, even though we don’t have it yet.
But rest assured Bonnie, you will be whatever He says you will be.
I have been praying for God to “show me Himself”, to give me new eyes with which to see, new ear with which to hear & see things as never before. I have asked Him to show me, me…as He sees me.
I woke early in the morning, the sun was just beginning to peek through the windows. I stretched in an effort to shake off my slumber & to embrace the new day. I heard myself whisper, “Thank you, Lord, for saving a WRETCH LIKE ME”.
It was as though my Father was sitting there, gently brushing my hair from my eyes, and as He looked down at me lovingly, He said, “You are NOT a wretch; YOU ARE MY DAUGHTER!”
I am still trying to take in all that was contained in that one brief, but life changing statement…”You are not a wretch; you are my daughter”.
With all of my failures, my ineptness, with all my broken pieces, God still thinks I’m beautiful! He calls me His own. He wants me; desires me.
Though I should be overcome with emotions, it is too much for me. I can scarce take it in. I am numb; yet somewhere, in the deep recesses of my soul, I feel a Truth beginning to seep in; like the warmth of the sun’s rays as it begins to melt the snow away.
There is an overwhelming peace in this place of “knowing”, though not fully able to comprehend the depth of His love.
Your words speak to my deeper being, the first email i received from you touched deep within and made me cry, Your words spoke to me I believe without a doubt that for the first time on my journey God has shaken me up I am more alive than I ever thought possible its something I have desired yearned for because it has felt like I have died inside but I’m not I’m vibrant passionate and have a zest for life and excited for what God has planned for me. Its finding an outlet to express myself. Dance, poetry, painting!!! I just have to trust God He will guide my steps and speak to me.
“We can become frozen. We can become so analytical about problem solving and overwhelmed by our conflicting emotions, we no longer feel. We numb ourselves from our wounds and our desires.”
I told someone today that I felt like I was stuck in mud or frozen. I guess I could have said paralyzed too. Grief will do that to a person. I make little starts and retreat, march ahead boldly and scramble back immediately. If I am numb I don’t have to feel the sorrow and grief. No one can fill the hole in my heart. Jesus can’t fill it. I hope He will help me understand it, deal with it, get past it, but those kinds of holes are always with us. I think they are supposed to be. I hope one day to be able to refer this hole as a point of reference and not something I am having difficulty crawling out of. This is my season of grief. I talk to God about this a lot. I want to hurry through this, but grief won’t be hurried. I am newly widowed and this is the hardest thing I have ever had to go through in my life. Ever. I do believe He will make a way, I just can’t see it now. I guess that’s where the trust comes in.
Hi, just wanterd to tell you, I liked this post. It was funny.Keep
Today’s date is 12-27-2014 and I have just now read this post. Although your words are written nearly two years ago I find them fresh as if written yesterday. There is a revealing in this for me. I am like the woman with an empty vessel, sharing what tiny amount of oil I have with the few closest to me who also have empty vessels. I marvel at how the oil increases when shared. Perhaps if I am to have a specific word for 2015 it would be “Share”. Seems quite fitting. Thank you. Blessings to you across time!
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