We thank you, God, we thank you— your Name is our favorite word; your mighty works are all we talk about. (Psalm 75:1, The Message)
Last week I shared with you two options I was considering for my “word of the year” this year—a word to help encourage, challenge and guide me in the way God wants me to go throughout the coming year. And I asked all of you to help me decide between those two choices. The words I was considering were “align” and “converge,” and you responded enthusiastically with some very thoughtful and helpful comments. Thanks so much for being part of my discernment!
The word I ended up choosing was “align.” (Sorry, all you converge fans!) Align literally means to line things up, or to bring things together in a line. It captures the idea of focus…of single-mindedness…of seeking to bring order out of chaos. It will serve to remind me that the goal isn’t to balance or juggle the different parts of my life, but to bring those things into line—to offer up every part of my life to the same purpose. Of course, the word “align” begs a few questions. “What line am I following? What’s that single-minded purpose everything is supposed to line up with? And how exactly does that sort of alignment happen?”
In Psalm 75, the song-writer Asaph offers an answer to all of these important questions of life. And his answer can be summed up in a single word.
We thank you, God, we thank you— your Name is our favorite word;
your mighty works are all we talk about. (Psalm 75:1, The Message)
The writer begins his song with a simple chorus of praise. He is excited to share his “favorite word” with us. He and his friends can’t stop talking about who God is and what God does. Acknowledging and worshiping God is what aligns them with one another. It’s what makes them belong—what brings them together into true community. At the end of the psalm, the writer concludes with another chorus of praise—but this time Asaph makes it personal. “As for me,” he sings, “I will declare this forever; I will sing praise to the God of Jacob.” (vs. 9)
Asaph’s word of praise not only aligns him with his community of faith; it also aligns him with God. It is the single-minded purpose of his life…to know God and to make Him known.
Between these two choruses in Psalm 75, we begin to see how that sort of alignment happens…or more importantly, Who makes it happen. First God speaks. “I choose the appointed times…I judge with equity…I hold the pillars of the earth firm” (vs. 2-3). God is the One who makes sense of it all. He is the only One who can create order out of chaos—the only One who can bring it all into true alignment. “No one from the east or the west or from the dessert” can do it (vs. 6). It is God…and God alone, who “brings one down” and “exalts another.” God is our only alignment…our true north…our favorite word.
This season of the year is called Epiphany in the church. It is a season during which we celebrate how God has revealed himself to us through Jesus Christ. Jesus is that “Word made flesh” (John 1:14). He is the Word who was there “in the beginning” (John 1:1). For all who seek peace and justice in this world; for everyone who is struggling to bring order to the chaos of their life; for anyone desperately searching for belonging, meaning and purpose—the name of Jesus is that Word…our favorite word. His mighty works and his limitless love are all we can talk about. As we celebrate Jesus—who God is and what God does—He brings us into alignment with one another and into alignment with God. To be sure, that sort of alignment is imperfect…a work in progress. But one day soon, that glorious Word–that beautiful name—will make the alignment complete. His name is…
“…the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11)
If you’d like to share your word for the year with me, I’d love to hear it. Just shoot me a quick email at firstname.lastname@example.org. But for any one of us who truly desires a better life—a life that makes sense—let your favorite word be Jesus. Let his name always be in your heart and on your lips. He is the Word of Life. He is the Living Water. Always stay thirsty for Him!
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