Jan 03

“Setting a Path for the New Year” by Joan Leotta

A Facebook game/challenge I recently took gave me a “saying” to use as my motto for the coming year. Another challenged me to discover the one word that should guide my actions in the coming year. Those are fun, but why would I trust a stranger or an unknowing algorithm to determine how I will think about or act in 2017 or any other time?

I prefer to march to the tune of another set of words, selected by the Holy Spirit, who knows my every thought, the God who knew me in the womb. I determine that specific path with an annual Bible Verse selection.

A verse for the year is more than a goal on a sheet of paper; it is a contract or promise directly from God’s word to me. I don’t remember where I heard of asking God for a guiding verse, but I do recall it was a bit more than forty years ago, just before I met my husband,

At that time God gave me the verse from Luke, 1:45 Blessed is she who believe that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.

Shortly after I was engaged, I asked God for a verse to guide my life. He gave me verse one from Psalm 45—”My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” After we had children, I left my job as an analyst and became a story performer and a writer—twin professions that draw on my talents and enable me to serve God with much joy.

About twenty years ago, I began the process of praying for an annual verse to guide my actions with greater specificity. I have been doing this now for more than twenty years.

How does He give me the verse? No, a group of angels does not come down and sign it over to me. Nor do I randomly open the Bible and point to a verse.

Instead, I pray and in the course of my daily devotions, a verse strikes my heart and is later confirmed by coming up in church sermons, hearing other people mention it, in other readings, or in the case of this year’s verse, in group readings at my church’s weekly prayer meeting where we focused on sins of omission.

Yet, I cannot say my “method” is perfectly aligned with God’s will for me, only that I try. I base the entire process on prayer. I prayerfully ask for a verse to jump out at me. That verse guides me in all aspects of life for the year and hopefully beyond.

I always try to be available to do the Lord’s will, but lately I’ve been more aware of many sins of omission on my part, opportunities to do good that I was passing up. Hence, the verse for last year, 2016, was I Samuel 3:4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.'” (NIV)

While of course, this is a lifetime issue—so many opportunities, which should I choose, which should I leave for another? Evidently, God has more work to do with me in this area because this year I have been receiving many signals that this verse is to be my verse for the 2017 as well, but with a twist.

God evidently has taken pity on the fact that I feel a bit overwhelmed in all that I am doing so He added onto that verse, a call for discernment.

Through a bit of Bible study to learn more about the verse I was “claiming” as my guide for the year, I became aware that when Samuel made his laudable answer in chapter 3, he did not yet know or understand who the Lord was.

It is later in the book that he learns about God and the high priest tells him to answer the Lord God in a more specific way—yes, we can be specific with God!

Therefore, my verse for 2017 will come from a bit farther in the chapter, “So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.’”

First, I have to determine if it is indeed the Lord calling and if it is, then ask Him to give me the specifics of what he wants me to do. I’m setting out a marketing plan for next year.

Then, I need to pray over all of it, to determine how much of my time and energy are to go into that, what direction He wants me to take in my writing.

All of this will fall within the bounds of my willingness to listen to God, It does not mean I will experience worldly success in these actions, but I if I act according to God’s will , my actions will further His kingdom, even if I can’t see it. That I know.

I think that if you prayerfully ask the Lord to guide you to a verse, you will find one.

Will you select a guiding verse from God’s word for 2017?

We would love to have you share your guiding verse for 2017 with us on the RUBY blog and in the RUBY community. It will be an inspiration to us all!

Visit Joan Leotta at her blog to read more of her inspirational and educational posts at www.joanleotta.wordpress.com

You can also find Joan’s books at RUBY’S Reading Corner, including Rosa and the Red Apron, Summer in a Bowl, and her winter picture story book, Whoosh!


  1. Donna B. Comeaux

    Joan, this was wonderful. Truly wonderful.

  2. Jo Ann Mathews

    Inspirational, thought-provoking piece. My verse from the Wisdom of Solomon: To fasten your attention on wisdom is to gain perfect understanding. (Good News Bible, 6:15)

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