Like many of us, I start my new year by choosing a focus word or phrase. Something I feel God brings to my mind as I’m reflecting on the past year, and looking toward the year to come. A few months ago, I found myself drawn to the word BEHOLD. You’ll find it used over 1,000 times in Scripture. Let’s look first at its dictionary definition:

Behold: To see or observe a thing or person, especially a remarkable or impressive one. To look closely. To stop and pay attention.

And its Biblical translation: It is derived from the Greek word ‘eido,’ which has the literal translation of: Be sure to see.

And in Eugene Petersen’s The Message translation: Watch for this.

I envision God encouraging me to “watch for” and “be sure to see” what comes my way each day, each moment. This feels like truly living the fullness of each moment. Living aware of the Divine. During the Advent season, we were encouraged to “wake up and be aware.”  So, if I am awake and aware now, I can better behold in the new year. I must behold—stop and be sure to see—in order to sense the wonder of it all.  Scripture talks of those who spent time with Jesus as being amazed—full of awe and wonder. And don’t we want to live that way. To trust in God’s goodness and care and watch for it—open to being surprised by God! For the Christian, behold means to look to God, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit in order to truly see—to observe and comprehend God’s will and ways through His word and life’s circumstances.

In the Message translation, young Mary’s response to the angel’s Annunciation news is: “Yes, I see it all now. I’m the Lord’s maid, ready to serve. Let it be with me just as you say.”  To “see it all now”—what a wonderful way to live! Something to pray for and to fight for.

Recently our bishop here in Arkansas challenged us with this statement: “Let’s go down the road together and leave no one behind.” What a worthy goal for 2023.  In our Christmas card this year, I shared that my prayer was that we each embrace God’s will for us with His grace and grow in love. I believe that when we behold what’s happening to us and our hearts, and what we are becoming, and we behold what’s going on with our neighbor and the world, we can live out this challenge. With Divine wisdom and power, we can embrace God’s will, grow in love, walk down the road together, and leave no one behind. Just as “Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favor with God and with people” (Luke 2:52), let us hunger to grow wiser, healthier, and better at relationships with God and others.