“Keep your eyes open, hold tight to your convictions, give it all you’ve got, be resolute, and love without stopping.” — 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (The Message)
For 24 years, I have decided to ditch New Years resolutions and instead, choose a One Word vision for the year. That’s right: no long lists, pages of wishes and dreams, or complex and confusing game plans. Not even a phrase, statement or slogan. Just a single word. One Word provides laser-like focus and eliminates distractions. And it has been nothing short of life-changing. And life-giving.
We tend to drift toward complexity instead of driving toward simplicity. The One Word exercise has become a focal point throughout my year that brings simplicity and clarity into a very complex world. The discipline of developing a One Word vision has stretched me in all areas: spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally and financially. God has transformed me in many ways through this exercise, and it has brought truth and revelation into my life.
Each year, I carve out time between Christmas and New Years to pray, journal and seek God for the word He wants for me. My desire is to have a God-word not just a good word. It’s not so much about me picking a word, but the word finds me. Let me explain. For me, it takes time to unplug, be silent, wait and ask God to reveal Himself and a word for my upcoming year. Henri Nouwen’s wisdom has become so true to me in discovering my One Word. He says, “A word with power is a word that comes out of silence.”
As I sat silently at the end of 2022, I asked the Lord, “What One Word do you have for me in 2023?” I heard in my spirit, “Are you ready?” Even though the words weren’t audible, they were loud and clear. That’s when I knew God had “spoken.” My One Word for 2023 is Ready.
Times have moved from complex and complicated to crazy and confusing. Yes has become no. Out-of-bounds ideas are now in-bounds. Normal has become weird. Wrong is right. It’s like we woke up and the rules of life changed overnight.
Even though Paul wrote these words 2,000 years ago to the church of Ephesus, they are truer today than ever before: “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). I’m not a doom and gloom guy, but the battle is raging. Things are changing at light-speed. And we need to be ready!
Let me share a recent example of how things are changing so drastically. FCA has been ministering at coaches’ conventions for over 50 years in every sport at every level — from local to national. Over the years, we have reached hundreds of thousands of coaches by paying for a booth at the exhibition hall so we can hand out free Bibles and devotionals. Then, we host a free outreach lunch or breakfast to share the Gospel. I have personally attended over 100 of these events and witnessed hundreds of coaches give their lives to Christ. It is one of my favorite parts of FCA’s ministry. I could tell you story after story of life change due to decades of convention ministry.
Last month, for the first time ever, we were told to leave one of the national conventions because of our stance on sexual purity and marriage. Just think: FCA has been serving coaches and athletes around the world for nearly 70 years, working with millions each year in over 100 countries. And for the first time at a convention, we were asked to leave. We weren’t welcome. It wasn’t because we did something wrong, but because our beliefs were deemed wrong. We continue to stand firm on our biblical convictions.
God is calling each of us to be ready. I don’t believe it’s just a word for my year, but I believe it’s a call for all of us. We’re not just to get ready, but to be ready. Ready means prepared for immediate use. We must be willing to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God at any moment and to fight the good fight of faith. As Peter writes in 1 Peter 3:15: “Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy.”
In 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, Paul is commanding, challenging and calling us to be ready. To be ready, we must be willing to do these five things:
- “Keep your eyes open.” Stay alert and ready, because the devil prowls around like a lion seeking to kill and destroy. Pay attention. (1 Peter 5:8)
- “Hold tight to your convictions.” Have guts and do not compromise the truth. Be willing to stand for what you believe. (Jude 3)
- “Give it all you’ve got.” Giving 100% all the time —working at it with all your heart. (Colossians 3:23)
- “Be resolute.” Get resolve and tenacity to not quit because at the proper time, God will bring a harvest. (Galatians 6:9)
- “Love without stopping.” This is our posture. As we do the first four things, we must be overflowing with love. Smother others in love so they experience the joy of Jesus. (1 Peter 4:8)
If we want to be ready, it will take more days of maintenance than days of magnificence. The key is to put the work in and prepare.
“Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy and leave room for God to come in as He decides.” — Oswald Chambers
Being ready comes from a life well lived by connecting and cultivating a deep relationship with the Savior, day in and day out. Too many of us skim and go through the motions without making any spiritual investments for long-term impact. This will have us running on spiritual fumes. We must stop hoping to simply get by, and ready ourselves for God to miraculously use us when He calls.
Ready is prepared.
Ready is urgent.
Ready is responsible.
Ready is obedient.
Ready is immediate.
Ready is complete.
Ready is available.
Ready is constant.
Ready is now.
Ready is instant.
Ready is willing.
Ready is eager.
Ready is work.
Ready is go.
Ready is today.
Have you put in the time to be ready? Carve out space this year to be ready. Make an investment. Go deeper. It might be the single most important decision you make this year. Your tomorrow depends on it. Let’s stand ready together!
Father, I desire to be ready for anything that the world throws my way. Take me deeper and prepare me for the times. May I walk wisely and make the most of the time because the days are evil. In Your name I pray. Amen.