As we journey through life, there are events that mark the passage of time. Birthdays, anniversaries, new years, and funerals become memorials in life and can either bring us joy or pain. As we remember these past events, we have a choice. Our memories can become guideposts and markers that can be used to help guide us wisely through the future, or they can become pools of regret and pain that only breed despair as we sink into the stagnant past.
The Apostle Paul said, “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14). His statement was full of great wisdom and in context simply means this. We should not allow the pain of the past to hinder the glory of our future.
As we pass the markers of life with each new year and anniversary, we must move past the things that are behind and press forward with the vision that God has given us.
As a Christian, you are anointed and equipped with the greatest power in the universe. I encourage you to allow the grief and the pain of the past to fall. Let the instruction and wisdom you have been given through the Word rise up in you. Things ahead of you may appear to be difficult, but the great grace you have been given will overpower any obstacle before you.
Yesterday, I officiated my little sister's funeral. We were very close and for her to depart to heaven will, of course, leave an empty place in my heart. When her children asked me to officiate the funeral, my first thought was, “I will never be able to do that.” But after prayer, I decided if they asked, I would. It was at Bethel Mennonite Church in the middle of farmland Missouri. Driving through the countryside to the church, it was not uncommon to see buggies being drawn by horses. Just like in the movies, it was a very picturesque scene.
As the funeral service started, another minister stood and read the obituary. Next, the Josh Groban song “You Raise Me Up” was to play, and then I would stand in the pulpit of this Mennonite church and give the eulogy for my sister. She loved to listen to that song. In fact, her daughter told me in her final weeks she listened to it continually. I could feel my throat tightening as the obituary concluded and the song was ready to start. And then God came through and gave me strength in time of trouble.
In this little country Mennonite church, the sound man got the wrong track. Instead of “You Raise Me Up,” he played very loudly and very boldly, “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding. I’m quite sure that this 150-year-old church crafted from wood shipped in from Holland, with horses and buggies outside and bonnets on the ladies inside, had never had Otis Redding perform within its hallowed walls before. The somber mood lightened up and with great respect and joy my sister was honored through the eulogy. The service concluded with “You Raise Me Up,” and I realized once again that no matter how good our plans are, God always has a better plan.
No matter how difficult the job that lies before us looks, God's grace is greater, and He will empower us to accomplish what He has called us to do.