Forgetting the Past, Straining Forward

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In just a few short hours, it will be a new year. 2015. I can’t say I’ve been waiting all my life for this year. Nor can I say that I’ve even thought much about what this New Year may bring. But there are no backward looks at 2014. I have no desire to stay in this year.

Fully agreeing with Paul, I am choosing to forget what lies behind, and instead, press on for what lies ahead (Phil. 3:13). My heart knows that the future holds a life that is far better than anything I’m leaving in this past year.

In the previous verses, Paul states that his desire is to know—fully experience—Christ and the power of His resurrection and share—take part in—his sufferings, “becoming like him in his death.” He goes on to say that he longs to make this his own, because Jesus has made him His own.

When 2015 comes to a close, I long to be able to say that my heart knows Jesus deeper, that I’ve experienced more of his power, and have become a bit more like Him while going through times of suffering and sorrow.

The desire of my heart is that this year will find me with a more steadfast, enduring hope and trust in Jesus. That I would “press on” and push in to Christ, instead of retreating and distancing myself from Him. I pray that my trust in Jesus would be stronger than the doubts of the devil, that I would hear the voice of Jesus above the storms. That instead of feeling that He has left me, I would be constantly reminded of the fact that “Christ Jesus has made me his own” (Phil. 3:12).

All of life is as fluid as water, as uncertain as the wind…but the great certainty in all of it is that I have a Savior who calls me His own and loves me with a love that takes my breath away.

In the pain of this past year, it was easy to feel that God utterly hated me and loathed my life as much as I did. He was not near—in fact, it seemed as if He had removed Himself entirely from my life. Except to cause just one more loss.

Loss is inescapable, unavoidable. All of life is painted in loss, but that doesn’t mean I should be done with Jesus—just because I can’t see him through the blurry vision of tears and pain. So, this year, I am choosing to go hard after Christ Jesus, even when I can’t see Him, touch Him, or hear Him. He has made me His own—I belong to Him.

Whatever my lot

You have taught me to know

It is well, it is well

With my soul.

Farewell, Bestest Friend

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Just two short days ago, my bestest best friend left this place we call earth—a mixture of dirt, sky, and water. In the end, God will do the right thing, but my heart believes that the precious lives found in our pets go home to be with Jesus. That one day, it will be both Jesus and Harvard who meet me in Heaven.

Harvard lived an extraordinary life of 17 years, 3 months, and 10 days. He was the answer to all my childhood prayers: miracle, best friend, someone who understood and loved me deeply, the light of my life and joy of my heart.

In all my years, there have only been a handful of things that really, truly make my heart sing and he was one of them. It was always Harvard who waited for me to come home, and greeted me every, single time. It’s always been Harvard who “got” me. Always Harvard.

Harvard was the one who had my heart. And in many ways, he took much of it with him when he died. But he also left me with much of his heart in mine. Though he was “just a cat”, I learned a lifetime’s worth of lessons from him.

  • Live in the moment: Don’t wait for tomorrow to really start living.
  • Embrace simplicity: It’s never the extravagant, excitable things that make life sustainable long-term.
  • Love deeply: Give and receive love for the unspeakably precious gift it is.
  • Laugh: Whether dreaming or awake, find things that make you jump for joy.
  • Be grateful: Express your gratitude in your actions.

Friday, I lost my best friend. The face I knew better than my own is gone. The white stripes running down his ears will never be stroked again. Never again will I run my finger over his soot-colored spot by his left eye. There will be no more sorrows to share with him. No more stories to tell him. No more tears to fall on his shiny coat. No more soul-eyes to stare into.

The deepest things of life were reserved for him and Jesus alone. On earth, only he truly knew the greatest dreams of my heart, the deepest hurts, and the happiest moments of my days.

My apartment feels hollow now, and no amount of music can ever replace his voice. Every day of his life, he talked to me and I miss our conversations. It is truly a rare thing to have a cat converse as much as this one did—with the greater thing being that he “answered” questions with a well-placed response.

Harvard was always the better best friend…and it will be a very long time before I find a friendship that comes close to all he was for me. Only God really knows how much that cat held life together for me in the times when there was nothing to live for.

Jesus, I am unspeakably grateful to you for giving me the greater greatest gift in the better best friend. There are no words to adequately express my thankfulness to you for sustaining his life through all the heartbreak of just this past year alone.

Dearest Harvard, I miss you in the depths of my heart. I’ll always love you. It will always be your voice I hear in response, when I come home in the evening saying, “Honey, I’m home.” And one spectacular day I’ll come Home to stay and my heart will again be home with you.

Psalm 16

1. Recognition

  • “You are my Lord. I have no good apart from you.” (v.2)
  • Everything good is found in God.
  • Recognition opens our eyes to the Source of every good thing: Jesus.
  • Anything truly good in life is just a droplet from the Fountain.

2. Running from God

  • “Sorrows are multiplied for those who chase after other gods.” (v. 4)
  • Though we may not bow down to images, our hearts are idol factories.
  • Life becomes bitter and sorrowful when we pursue our own passions and desires apart from Christ.
  • Far too often we search for answers and satisfaction in other things/people instead of seeking God as both the beginning and ending to the question.
  • We chase the wind, pursue our own passions, and seek our own happiness in the idol factories of our heart.

3. Realization

  • “You are my chosen portion.” (v. 5-7)
  • The word “chosen” is beautiful as it depicts us choosing God over other things.
  • While God is the portion for His children, we have to choose Him—again and again.
  • My life is secure in His hands.
  • “I have a beautiful inheritance” as a child of God
  • He is my counselor.

4. Right Place

  • “I have set the Lord always before me.” (v. 8)
  • Look to Him, seek Him, focus and center on Him.
  • He is with me. I will not be shaken.

5. Rejoice

  • “My heart is glad and my whole being rejoices.” (v. 9)
  • Joy is found in Jesus when we know that our lives are secure in Him.
  • Unspeakable joy. Ahhh…it’s so precious and makes my heart sing.

6. Revelation

  • Jesus, “You make known to me the path of life.” “Fullness of joy is found in your presence.” (v. 11)
  • We can’t know God’s will without seeking Him, asking Him for wisdom.
  • Hearts and lives living disconnected from Jesus will not see His way.
  • We find joy in Jesus. This joy can be found in the most awful situations, as it is not dependent on circumstances. It is dependent on our Savior.