“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 and a new decade.  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.

Eleven years ago when our son died, 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 insurmountable 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.  I had to surrender it under the powerful blood of Jesus Christ.

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. Pressing on means lifting the heaviness of the heartache we bare to Jesus.  We don’t forget our loved one. They are never more than a thought away. But the heaviness of our load lessens in time. If we keep our eyes on Jesus and not the pain and continue to serve wherever He leads.

During this most recent holiday season, I purchased my new calendar for 2020.  I sat down and started doing what I did so many years ago.  Writing in dates of birthdays and events coming up.  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 it on the calendar all.  My days have become full of life simply because I trusted God during those empty days.

If you are facing a season of loss, I want to encourage you to press on toward Jesus.  Trust that in Him to bring life into those empty days.  Letting go of the fear 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.

For His Glory,

Laura Holmes

Director, Ephraim Ministries