Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before,
(14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Before I begin to share with you all the wonderful things the Lord has taught me in the past year, I'd like to make a brief statement. The first part of that verse says "I count not myself to have apprehended:..." In our modern way of speaking, Paul may have been saying that he doesn't think that he's "arrived". I feel just like Paul. Because of some recent comments, I just want to say, I do not think I am anything but a sinner saved by the grace of God. I know how low the Lord had to reach down to save me....I haven't forgotten that were it not for his abundant mercy, I would be heading straight for hell tonight. I do not ever want to come across like I am better than anyone else; that is not how I feel at all. Some think that in taking a stand, I am being rude. If my passion for the things of God comes across that way, I am very sorry. I can say with all sincerity that nearly everything written here is read and re-read for clarity and tone. Sometimes I miss the mark. Does that make me happy? No, it makes.me.human. So, having said that, shall we move on to the real point of this entry?
Forgetting those things which behind....
In order for us to move forward in the direction that the Lord has for each of us, we must first forget those things that are behind us - those things we cannot change! With that in mind, I would love to share with you some of the lessons the Lord has taught me in the past year, the things that I believe will help me (and you, if needed) to truly move on.
- Guard your tongue This has been a HUGE lesson for me! My mouth has caused me more trouble in my lifetime than anything else! I have had to eat more crow than all of Israel with the apologizing I've done throughout the years for words that were said in haste. I am thankful for the gracious people who have allowed the Lord to mold me and make me and have forgiven quickly. You are a blessing! Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (Jas 3:5)
I have had to learn that just because I think it, doesn't mean I need to say it. Just because it's true, doesn't mean it needs to be said. And best of all, God can take care of the matter far better than I can! Trust Him. Words that are spoken can never be taken back.
- Treasure each day Another biggie here....certainly the hardest lesson learned in '10. I have lost countless days, grieving the loss of our unborn child. I have lost memories that could have been made with my children because I didn't know how to get out of the pit of depression I was in. And people telling me to just get over it (you want to talk about hard to forgive??) only made it worse. But God is faithful!
In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God:
he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
The Lord helped me to see the treasures that were right in front of my face. The gift of family. Just a few blog posts ago, I mentioned two families who were suffering terrible losses this holiday season. One was a father of ten, the other, a 15 month old boy. No matter what we face, it could always be worse. Time is a gift and one day it will run out. I was keenly aware of this as I spent Christmas with my grandmother. I love her dearly and I could not help but wonder how many more Christmases we'll share. Don't waste time on things you cannot change. If you're grieving, bring it to the Lord. If you have aught with someone, try your best to make it right. Whatever it is, seek the solution from the One who can help! Don't waste time....
- Forgive quickly How many times each week do we each have the choice to either forgive or carry a hurt around with us? Whether it is within our marriage, our household, our family, work, church, etc, every interaction we have with people leaves us open to something hurtful being said. Is the solution to avoid contact with other people? Of course not! I think we have to be ready, at a moments notice, to forgive! I remember in my husband's first pastorate, I had a lady come up to me and ask me to forgive her. When I asked her what it was she was apologizing for, she said she'd been mad at me for a year over a comment I made even though she knew that I hadn't meant it the way it sounded. An entire year wasted, harboring anger over something I knew nothing about! And I've done the same thing. Instead of giving someone the benefit of the doubt, I'll simply get upset or hurt. It's a terrible cycle. How much easier to just forgive and move on?
I was thinking about Jesus on the cross. He said, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do." Before they ever asked, Jesus forgave. How much more pleasant our lives would be if we could just learn to follow Christ's example.
- Let go of what doesn't matter Does it really matter who was right? Does it matter if you have the nicest home or the fanciest car? In the face of eternity, do those extra workbook pages matter? If it is stressing you out and it has no *eternal* value, let.it.go. We all want our children to be smart but not at the expense of character. Many would like a bigger house or a newer car but it isn't worth the hours missed with family. Yes, it feels good to be in the right but at what cost? If it isn't a life or death, heaven or hell matter....perhaps it would just be better to put it behind you. Don't keep stewing over what you cannot change. Let go - it feels really good :)
And a few simple reminders....
- Watch your eye gate This may sound like a given for anyone who has been saved any length of time. How many preachers have used Psalm 101:3 (I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes....) when preaching about the tv or movies or the internet. For many of us, the problem is not the obvious. It is the things we don't consider, like comments on Facebook, ads in your email, the things in the background that permeate the mind without our even knowing it. Just be careful....
- Watch your ear gate By the same token, be mindful of the background noise. The worldly music that comes across your child's favorite film, your favorite hair salon that is blaring music you'd never allow in your homes, the events that you go to where the chatter around you is laced with godless words and conversation. Can we be totally separate from the world? Of course not. Do ask the Lord to reveal to you things that may undermining your walk with Him. He will. I am the world's worst for hearing a song from the 80's and then humming it. I won't even realize I'm doing it. The Devil is subtil and we need to be vigilant to protect our minds.
- Love others Not just those that are lovable! Love others because God commands us to! Love is not a feeling - it.is.a.choice. Is it easy to love people who have been mean towards me? No. Is it easy to love those who have walked away? No. So, how can it be done? I'll tell you the secret.....prayer. You simply cannot earnestly pray for someone and not develop a love for them. The very act of praying for someone shows love for them. So, pray....even if you don't feel like it. I promise, God will put a genuine love in your heart for them.
- Put away childish things When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1Co 13:11) We could sum that verse up like this, "Just grow up!".
- Reach for attainable goals 'Tis the time for 'resolutions'. You know, those things that rarely last past the end of January? The time when we wipe the slate clean and set the very highest of expectations for ourselves, then feel like a failure when we find we cannot reach them.
Where is your 'mark' for the coming year? This is the time of year when gym memberships soar and people promise to lose "X" amount of pounds. However, there are some things that are not within our power to change. You can work out and you can diet but you cannot make your body lose a set amount of weight in a set time. I can't tell you how many years I've thought, "This is the year we'll finally have another baby!" only to set myself up for disappointment because I cannot control the fact that my body doesn't work right. Maybe your a home schooling mama who says that little Johnny is going to read by the end of the school year. YOU cannot control that! You can give him the tools, you can teach him the phonics but only God can help all of that to 'click' in his little brain. To expect otherwise is to set both of you up for failure.
Are your goals attainable? What are your spiritual goals? One of mine is to read the Bible through twice in 2011. I just finished up reading it through in 90 days and it was such a blessing and a learning experience for me! What about family goals? Much to my dismay (and surprise) we have become one of those families that are always eating on the run. So, one of the things that I'm 'reaching for' is to have my entire family around the supper table together, daily.
Pressing implies effort. It takes work. I encourage you to reach for attainable goals in the coming year and be ready to work for them! Set your eyes on the Savior and seek His face. Remember, the only things that really count are those that count for eternity.
I wish each of you a bountiful new year in the Lord! I am expecting fantastic things! Are you?
© Adorning Grace 2010