“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.” Philippians 3:13 (NIV)

Earlier this month we celebrated the start of a new year.  One thing I always loved about a new year was getting organized.  I developed a habit many years ago of using the down time from Christmas to New Year’s to sit down with my calendar and plan out my year.  I would put in the birthday/anniversary dates of family and friends.  Church activities and major things coming up in that year with our family.  Particularly in the lives of our children.  Anxiously awaiting all the wonderful things that year would bring.

When our youngest son Jamie died, almost sixteen years ago, I felt like the calendar became an enemy of mine.  What at one time documented so much hope, now only held sorrow. A canvas I would have filled with their activities. Yet now the silence overwhelmed me and paralyzed me with fear.  It was a painful reminder of 365 days of emptiness ahead of me.

Paul writes in Philippians 3:13-14 “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.”

When we lose a loved one, moving forward in life seems an unsurmountable task. Fear tells us that if we move forward, we are letting them go. That we will forget them.  There’s this feeling of guilt that we have let them down by continuing to live. Fear says there’s no way you can live without them.

But fear is a liar.

There were many days of overwhelming sadness and years of sleepless nights.  There were numerous occasions where I felt the pain would certainly kill me. But by the grace of God it didn’t.

I made a conscious decision to continue to press on towards Christ.  In pressing on I had to let go of the fear that kept me paralyzed.  In the beginning it was a moment -by-moment process. I had to surrender the trauma and put it under the powerful blood of Jesus Christ.  Those things were behind me now.

I also had to let go of my plans that once filled the calendar and surrender my future days to His plans.  Pressing on means that we are picking up our cross daily.  We take that thing that breaks our heart the most and instead of giving in to our feelings, we choose to continue serving wherever He leads.

During this most recent holiday season, I purchased my new calendar for 2024.  I sat down and started doing what I did so many years ago.  Writing in dates of birthdays and events coming up in the new year.  Church and work commitments.  In doing that, I found myself once again amazed at how God hears our prayers and restores.  My calendar is quite full of life these days. Down time happens when I intentionally put some on the calendar.  All because of the wonderful opportunities God has blessed me with.

If you are facing a season of loss, I want to encourage you to press on toward Jesus.  Allow him to bring life into those empty days.  Letting go of the fear and pressing on toward Christ is not letting go of your loved one.

Father, remind us that until you call us home we are here to reach others for the Kingdom.  The only way we can do that is my pressing on heavenward into Christ.  Help us not be paralyzed by our fear. But to be open to go where you call us.

My Hope Endures,

Laura Holmes

Director, Ephraim Ministries