"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."--Phil. 3:13b-14 This past week, I have been cleaning out boxes. I thought that being out of the house got me out of that task, but my dear husband thought otherwise. So even though it is a tedious task, he brought the boxes to me. He told me that between the garage and the various closets, I had about 100 boxes to go through. I was not happy, to say the least.
But as we have been talking about submission to our husbands in our Sunday school class, I knew that this was something I needed to do. He helped me to see that while I may not realize it, he is having to schlep my boxes every time we do something. Besides the clutter and the extra space it was taking, it took a toll on him to have to move them. He has done it, good man, but if I could help him out by cutting down on it, that would be greatly appreciated. When he said it that way, I knew he was right.
So, I have set myself a goal to cut down 50% of my stuff. Yup, that's half. And for a pack rat like me, who thinks that everything is going to come in handy some day, that has been a challenge.
But having that as a goal has really been helpful, because it has forced me to make some decisions. Since I can only keep 50%, I can either toss or give away the other 50%. So, out of a collection of 6 yearbooks from junior high and high school, I could only keep three. Which three would I keep? I chose my 8th, 9th, and 12th grade ones and chucked the rest. My goal was to send my husband home with the stuff I wanted to keep in half of the boxes, with the other half empty.
I don't think I'm being morbid, but as I was going through those things, I began to realize that I didn't want my children to have to go through all of this stuff. Most of it was wrapped up more in memories and sentiment than they were in practical value. If you don't relate with this and are good at getting rid of stuff, then be thankful.
Not that these things are bad. But as I went through all this, I thought to myself: Do I want this to free up space now or do I want to carry it around with me? Either way, when Jesus comes, it will eventually all be dust. (Weird way of thinking, but that's what was going through my head.) If I had to keep things, then would these things be in any way beneficial to those that are left behind? Most of the time, I had to admit that they were only valuable to me and no one else. If that was so, out it goes.
The other thought that was going through my head was: This is my past. I don't want to be bogged down by it. I want to be ever stepping forward into the future with the Lord. I want to enjoy where I am, not live in the days gone by. Even though much of my life has been shaped by these past experiences, and some of them were positive, I need to take what is good out of them and move on. I want to keep pressing forward, where He is, so that I can take hold of all that He has in store for me.
And so, after a stroll through memory lane, God brought me back to the present. This is where I am now. One day, today will also be a memory, perhaps packed up in a box. Maybe in another 25 years, God willing, I will be doing this again. It's hard to imagine that, but it's true. I never thought when I was in high school that I would ever forget these people that signed my yearbook. But I have. Sad but true.
On the flip side, I have also realized that God has made us to live in the present, building on the things we learned in the past, but moving with an eye towards the future. However, He doesn't want me to be so driven towards preparing for the future that I forget to live today. It is a delicate balance.
Today is today. I want to enjoy it. I am shaped by my past, and I will work towards the future, but I don't want to miss what He has for me today.
Heavenly Father, thank You for where You have taken me, the places I have been, the people I have known, the work I have done. You are still writing that story today. Please open my eyes to see Your hand at work in my life as I go through this stage and season. Keep me pressing on towards the goal for the prize of the upward call in Christ, for that is where my true reward lies. I love You and give You this day. Amen.