One Word

The Question God Is Always Asking-A One Word For 2017

Hoping does not mean doing nothing…And hoping is not dreaming…It means a confident, alert expectation that God will do what he says he will do. It is imagination put in the harness of faith. It is willingness to let God do it his way, and in his time.  ~Eugene Peterson


My One Word for 2016 was hope. At the beginning of last year, when the word pierced my heart I didn’t want it. Just the same way I haven’t wanted any of the other one words God has given me. But it was mine and I knew it, in the way that a child knows when their mom is calling to them, even as they pretend not to hear.

A year ago this week, we plunged ourselves voluntarily, into the dream of moving, and began the long, arduous process of preparing (in fear) to put our then-home on the market, with hope of finding something better suited to both our family’s needs, and the budding call we heard God whispering to practice hospitality in new ways. The what-if’s nearly suffocated us, as we fought to hope in God’s faithfulness.

Last January the word hope felt like the anchor that it is (Hebrews 6:19), but my perception, not surprisingly, was off. In those days, hope lacked for me, the buoyancy I thought I needed.

Indeed, I nearly drowned in waves of doubt.

The weekend before Easter, we worked for 36 hours without sleeping, moving the last of our belongings from one home to the next. Our hopes were realized in a relatively quick sale on our house, and the purchase of a dream-come-true kind of space.

God didn’t make the way smooth or painless. I had my time-table, and He had His. In His time though, He made it available. He didn’t unlock the doors to this dream because we “deserve it”, but because He had a purpose and a plan. While we only sensed it then, we are now living in the slow revelation of His purposes.

In April I attended the Festival of Faith and Writing and after attending a particular talk I had originally planned to skip, God used the words of an Accidental Saint to break through the hard shell I’d protectively been sculpting around my heart. Poor Shannan had to sit beside me while I cried my eyes practically shut from the breaking.

It was the ugly-cry to end all ugly-cries.

Hope packs a solid punch if you let your guard down. (Let your guard down, the recovery is worth the wallop.)

In July, after a hefty disappointment and a forced shut-down on a project I’d been working steady on, I fought harder for hope than I think I had all year. The thing about having a one word is that it is neither prescriptive nor encroaching. God doesn’t fit within the boundary lines we like to draw for Him.

Every time God has given me a word for the year, it has been more of a theme than a definition. It’s been a rope to cling to in the descent. A guide. A reminder of what God is doing. But it’s never as clear-cut as it seems like it should be. Detours abound.

July’s detour from one project, led to the production of another. Honestly?–I never saw it coming. Writing that book renewed my hope that had flagged when dreams turned to vapor.



Now, it’s a new year, time for a new one word.

In the days leading up to New Year’s I prayed, I begged, I pressed and pushed and nudged at God to confirm the word for me. I believed He would–He has now for so many years. But every time I prayed, what came back was never a word.

Instead, a burning question:

“What do you want me to do for you?”

This is Jesus’ question to the blind man in Mark 10:51. It’s the same invitation God gives to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 1:7. But it’s not only a question for the disciples, the blind man or Solomon. It’s for us too. It’s a reminder that not only with us, but that God is FOR us.

The presentation of this question reminds me that God does what God does. “God works,” as Peterson wrote, but not according to the framework and timelines we want to assign to Him.

Rather than a word, it feels like the generosity of God cracks wide open in this serious question of desire, and need and hope. I don’t have any idea how to answer this question, but I plan to spend the next 364 days learning how to answer it.

God is doing a new thing.

Did God give you a word this year?

What do you want God to do for you?

22 thoughts on “The Question God Is Always Asking-A One Word For 2017

  1. Vickie

    WOW! This was exactly what I needed to hear today! Thank you! After the last two years of one word that I really didn’t like or want but I would not trade now for anything! I didn’t want a word this year but that did not stop God! My word is “remember” and I really don’t know what to do with it right now but I sense He will show me in this next year! Again so glad I follow you on FB and got to know you through Christin!

  2. Kat L.

    My first time doing a one word and I really feel pulled towards ‘present.’ Praying on how God will use that for me this year (though slightly terrified at the same time!).

  3. Oh friend… I love you so! I hated my word last year and seriously kicked against the goads. I’d love to say that I matured and accepted it fully by mid-January but really, I’m not so sure I ever did fully embrace Change. I was so hesitant to even ask for a word in 2017… but it is so needed, and so part of my very DNA, and so swoon-worthy… I’m praying now that I don’t push it aside or forget about the invitation of it! (My Word is Dwell. My Honeys’ word is Behold… so thankful that they go together so well!)

  4. This just completely confirms the word He gave me: gobsmacked! Utterly astounded. To be completely truthful, it scares me to my core. It has been through some of the most intense times of pain that God has left me completely gobsmacked. I read the word in Shannan Martin’s Falling Free, posted the quote on my IG, and I’ve not been able to shake it. At first I was excited, God always astounds me. But now the fear is settling. Why will He astound me, what’s coming? I don’t mean this to sound so dramatic. I’m completely willing to go through whatever and wherever. Cuz if He’s there, I’m in. And tonight I read your words, the question. And I’m broken again. This moment my answer is that I just want Him to completely surround me and I need to rest in His safety and comfort and love. I don’t want to be afraid. I apologize if this is heavy, I truly didn’t start off this ‘comment’ with this in mind, it just sort of all came out. But it’s very real. Life with Jesus is amazing and fabulous because He’s with us through the terrifying parts.

    1. Kris Camealy Author

      No cookie-cutter, indeed. I love this about Him. And sometimes I don’t. It forces me to wait, to listen, to trust–His unpredictability grows us in the best/hardest ways.

      Love your word!!

  5. You spoke of the very intrinsic inner turmoil I endured last year into this new one, I’m in another state, on the same path and same ways saying “me too”, with all of this. Right down to the ugliest of all cries yesterday in realizing and continual grieving when disaapointing dream of writing became my reality once again. The struggle against it all surrenders to God who can, still is able and will aptly handle the details of even our deepest heart groans in an effort to heal our perspective of Him which in turn heals our identity tethered in Him. This is our soul journey unto the end.

  6. Karen

    I had barely uttered the prayer for the Lord to show me one word for 2017. Immediately, the word “compassion” came to me. In the few days since, I have slowly begun to grasp a few of the perspectives of this word. The compassion of God, the compassion of Jesus, the compassion of the Holy Spirit, my compassion for God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Compassion for the world, my neighborhood, my church, my friends, my family, and yes, compassion for myself. Wow, I am blown away by all the directions this WORD my take. I squirmed when this word tumbled out. I am excited and challenged by what God is going to do in and through me this coming year. God bless you for your honesty, Kris. You help me to face some of my fears as well.

  7. Thanks for sharing your journey, Kris. You have been asked the most awesome question for the coming year. I’m praying that you will answer boldly. I say this because once I answered this question by asking for little when Jesus wanted to give me much. I can’t read the words of that question without thinking of that time and how it played out in my life. Always, God is faithful because even when we fail to answer well, He is faithful to complete his work in us. My word this year is “metabolize.” I know, weird. I have recently awakened into a new insight on the journey, something I have longed for for alittle over three years. I want to take in the new and exchange into the energy, implying action, to live out this rich and satisfying “food” God has set on the table before me. Why has He given it to me and how will it manifest in my life? I’m living by faith because, like you and your question, the answer to how that will work out lies before me.

    1. Kris Camealy Author

      Thank you for that prayer, Dea. t means so much. I do hope I will answer boldly. Your word is interesting for sure, I look forward to watching that unfold for you in the coming months.

  8. Jamie

    Thank you for sharing the passage and the question. I noticed that Jesus asked James & John the same question in the preceding section and the contrast spoke to me as much as the question did!

    1. Kris Camealy Author

      Yes! It’s fascinating that He asks it 2 times in presumably a close span of time, first directed at them, and then to the lame man, while they witnessed the conversation. Clearly Jesus was teaching them something about the significance of the ways in which we might answer. It’s important, I pray we don’t miss it!

  9. Your heart is so tender, Kris. Thank you for breaking it open for us to see. The way you wrap words around the process just brings me joy. You are so right–we can’t keep God to His word (the one we think we’ve heard) but more so need to be open to how that works out in our lives than anything else.
    Here’s to adjusting (my word) and hoping.
    May God continue to make His plans clear in the year ahead.

    1. Kris Camealy Author

      I hope you and your word have made peace, Jody. I have had so many hard words over the years, in some ways it’s a relief to have a question, but what a question it is! It will be a good year working it out, and I am curious to watch how God uses your word to encourage and shape you this year.


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