Not that I have already reached the goal or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I do not consider myself to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and reaching forward to what is ahead, I pursue as my goal the prize promised by God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.
Residual panic dizzies me like an aftershock, reverberating through body and soul. In the ER or the echo room, I count the gifts, count my breath. I count the chubby dimples and the cowlicks. I hold, white knuckled, praying in my head, keeping my bearings “There is a light, we are on an exam table. The table has white, translucent, 2 foot wide paper that is crinkling under our bodies as we move …” It’s survival, and I’m good at it.
Always later–down after the high of hallelujah, down after the docs say we can go home, down after the help has blessedly come and gone–when the world seems right, that’s when I daze. That is when I stew: when it’s all over, when the cows have gone home. That is when I freak out. I run in circles, chase my tail, stand on the front porch and chain smoke in the middle of the night.
I wake after days, sometimes months, of a dizzying tail chase. I have been lost in a place that no longer is, feelings for moments blown away. I’m exhausted. I fight to find my bearings. I pray for new direction, a way back. I read a blog. Prophet says, “Pick a word.” Pick a word to guide you through the year in the ER and in the chiropractor’s office, potty training the two year old, and picking a kindergarten. Pick a word and flesh it out with scriptures to stand for you in the darkness like lighthouses, so when the darkness falls again you can find your way. It is time to mature, soul. It is time to move forward, even on the high wire, even in the valley, even in the dark.
The words in Jeremiah 7:24 haunt me: Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward. What? In the stubborness of my evil will? My stubborness, hanging on to moments of breathing tubes and plunging oxygen levels? My stubborness, hanging onto the moments when death INVADED and left us powerless, fatherless, childless? Hurts so deep that to remember is to double over in pain, lose breath, eyes stinging? But it was done, it will be done again. This world without end doesn’t stop taking. So I dizzy in panic and I dizzy in anger and I dizzy, dizzy, busy, busy, chase myself around and around.
He whispers, Forward.
Blind-sided with depression and pain, when I do get it all pulled together, find the balance, write the new story, adjust my expectations–and can make it through a single week without a visit to some health professional–why is it always at that moment life falls spectacularly into pieces again? How am I to make progress when all I do is recover from one trauma in time to deal with another?
And he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come forward” (Mark 3:3).
When was the last time I went forward? Forward to the healing Jesus, forward among His people? It was so natural to go forward to pray for Sam, not so natural to come forward for my ailing, blinded, prideful self. I wither in the pew, instead of moving forward, pressing in, clinging to the cloak of healing. Forward.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him (Luke 2:25). The consolation of Israel. The consolation of the beautiful couple who just lost their second baby in less than a year. The consolation of all that weighs, every outrage and why? to God. Simeon could see through the now, into the forward, because He was seeing through the Holy Spirit’s eyes. He was seeing God’s ultimate plan: to console: to allay the sorrow or grief of: For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’” (Revelation 7:17). Lead them to springs of living water. Forward.
For [Abraham] looked forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God (Hebrews 11:10). Running in circles is a nowhere way to live. Up and down, panting for breath, lost in the forest of what ifs and seizing fear for what could have been, what didn’t, what I can’t reach, what I can’t make work. I can’t. But He can. He can build, design, lead me. So I look forward.
Walking tight ropes may be where you and I are at, but there’s got to be a better way to balance. There has to be something I’ve missed, not seen. My prayer for 2014 is not all cupcake-happy-sprinkle days; I know there will be hill, mountain, and valley days. I just don’t want to get lost in them. I want to keep my eyes ahead, focused, so I don’t have to spend my time on earth not fulfilling my purpose, not moving forward.
You have heard; now see all this;
and will you not declare it?
From this time forward I make you hear new things,
hidden things that you have not known(Isaiah 48:6).
Bring. It. On. A. New. Thing.
Okay, but Taylor, seriously? What about serious PTSD, mourning, recovery? Yeah, I’m still going through some of that. I–unless God heals me, raises Caleb from the dead, and heals Sam’s heart 100% (all possible, by the way, if you know the Jesus I know)–have some serious, ongoing issues. But I don’t want to stay arrested in PTSD for the rest of my life. I don’t want to hold my breath at a grave site forever. I’m seeing my therapist, going to support groups, finding the people that can help me get beyond this obstacle, then the next. It may take a while. But there is work to be done. And, in God’s kingdom we are not defined by the things that have happened to us, or even the things we have done. We are defined by our purpose.
“They appointed the Levites who were twenty or more years of age to have charge of the work of the Lord. And Jeshua arose, and his sons and kindred and his brother Kadmiel and the sons of Jeshua Emadabun and the sons of Joda son of Iliadun, with their sons and kindred, all the Levites, pressing forward the work on the house of God with a single purpose. So the builders built the temple of the Lord” (1 Esdras 5:58).
So let us press forward in building this temple–each of our temples–for God. Let the husband and wives press forward in loving. Let the mothers and fathers press forward in parenting. Let the salesmen, preachers, miners, and lawyers press forward. Let the writers, bloggers, painters, and poets press forward. Let the elders press forward in encouraging and leading, the youth press forward in idealism and purity. And let us all press forward in single purpose:
“But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21).
Let’s move FORWARD in 2014. Forward is my word. The verses in this post are my lighthouses. Come what may, I want to be one of the seventh order in 2 Esdras 7:98:
” . . . they shall rejoice with boldness, and shall be confident without confusion, and shall be glad without fear, for they press forward to see the face of him whom they served in life and from whom they are to receive their reward when glorified.”
What’s your word for 2014?