I got a call from my neighbor last night. The other day I had left some flowers on her doorstep. Her husband passed away three days after Christmas. He was eighty-three.
“I just have to keep going, I guess,” she said to me over the phone that night.
I woke up this morning with her words still with me.
It’s true, sometimes the only thing we can do is keep going.
Whether there are regrets we leave behind or overwhelming uncertainties ahead, what else can we do but press on?
This comes to mind, a reminder from Paul, bound in chains, the prison doors slammed shut in his face:
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:14
Impassioned with a single goal, Paul took his eyes off his chains, and kept his focus upward.
I greatly admire that, because I know, this would not come easy for me.
Lately, life has been asking me to think upon what will really matter in eternity. As my husband and I wrestle with our future plans, our kids’ futures, a possible relocation, the fear of another health setback… it is easy to become short sighted and strive toward the path of least resistance. Lately, I realize, the more you hold close, the more you fear there is to lose.
But the one thing I am learning is that the moment I look down, look back, look too far ahead, is the moment I think “I can’t do this” and I start to fall.
It’s only when I have the sense to keep my eyes up, to the One who not only holds every beat of my heart, but the weight of eternal glory, that I have any chance of facing the future with confidence.
Because it helps to remember that the God who broke Paul’s chains and shook the dungeon doors open, is my God, too.
For the believer, the way is narrow and often steep. It may be lonely. Many times we will find ourselves face down, wanting nothing more than to give up and take the easy course.
But let’s not lose heart. Even as time plods on, and the process is slow, God is moving in mighty ways. The calling on our lives may feel great, but through grace, we have been equipped for this journey. And it matters most how we finish.
Last night, as we were ending our conversation, my neighbor shared this with me, her voice soft with regret, “When we were young, my husband and I, we did everything together. Everything. But after 59 years, well, we grew apart.”
It’s so very hard to finish well.
Yet in the end, we all stand in reward or regret. Sometimes I wonder, when I am finally in God’s presence, what would be my greatest reward? Regret?
Honestly, I shudder to think of all that I may have chased that had so little value. And yet everything done in the name of Christ, the gospel, for others… these things, time can’t tear down.
It’s not that we fling this life off and rush into eternity, live so in the clouds that we forget to see that our hearts beat for a reason…
But that we remember there is something so powerful about living fully now, yet in the light of eternity.
And something beautiful about pressing on, finding hope through it all, fully confident of the sweet freedom and glory to come.
So here’s to looking up and pressing on. 🙂
Here’s a song that has been playing all week in my home, “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize” by Sara Groves. (Click on the song and be blessed!)