Phil LeMaster, my minister for years, use to challenge our congregation to read through the Bible in a year.
Every January I would have this big dream of doing just that.
By February, as I reached the book of Leviticus and all the sacrifices the Israelites were offering in the wilderness, I would find myself overwhelmed with the details and skip to the New Testament.
Old Testament Scriptures are hard for me to swallow.
But when Nick passed away, I learned of a chronological Bible that was marked specifically for daily readings; and I determined that I would read the Bible through every year until I was with Nick again......
no matter how many years that might be.
I wish I could put into words how this goal has been part of my spiritual transformation.
My morning time in the Bible has become my favorite part of the day.
Without it, I don't know where I'd be today in my grief.
I especially love mornings when my daily Bible reading seems to line up perfectly with my devotional workbook at the time.
This morning I read about the death of David's infant son and how David fasted and wept and prayed when his son became ill.
As soon as he heard that his son had passed away, though, he got up from the ground and Scripture says,
"He washed, put on lotions, changed clothes, and went to the house of the Lord to worship. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food and he ate."
His servants were confused and asked him why he was acting this way.
They couldn't understand why he had fasted, wept, and prayed while the child was alive; but now that the child had died, he was eating and worshiping God.
I love David's answer in II Samuel 12:22-23,
"While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.'
But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again?
I will go to him, but he will not return to me."
I love that David believed in a future reunion!
I love that David understood that there was more to life than this present world.
As I finished reading about David's perspective on life and time, I turned to the next section in my "Experiencing God" workbook and this is what I read,
"If you live for time (the here and now), you will miss the ultimate purpose of creation. If you live for time, you will allow your past to mold and shape your life today.
Your life as a child of God ought to be shaped by the future (what one day will be).
God uses your present time to mold and shape your future usefulness here on earth and in eternity."
There's something powerful about letting go of our past pain and hurt.
Not that we forget the people we loved during that time.......
but we do not allow our past pain to mold us into people who are hopeless and bitter.
Rather, we use the pain of our past to push us toward our ultimate prize - Heaven!
We see our heartache as part of our journey that has catapulted us deeper into the arms of God rather than something that has pushed Him away.
We understand that in this world we WILL have trouble, just as Jesus said.
But that HE HAS OVERCOME THIS WORLD, and with that knowledge and a life committed to becoming more like Him, SO CAN WE!
That's what it means to be "more than conquerors."
We not only conquer our past pain, we allow it to become the driving force in our faith.
Today, what are you hanging onto in a way that is not positive and productive?
What are you allowing to mold you?
Are you a person who tends to look back or look forward?
I challenge you today to spiritually,
"get up, wash up, change your clothes, and worship God."
There will still be tears.
There will still be difficult days.
There will still be painful memories........
I promise that if you do, you will begin to feel an excitement about today and tomorrow that you've never had before.
You will begin to see everything through the lens of God's future victory.
His presence will become a backdrop in everything you experience and do.
You will find yourself waking up with purpose and passion.
Paul understood what it meant to shape his life by the future when he penned these words in Phil. 3,
"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.
But one thing I do:
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."