Tag Archive | staying in the past

An Open and Shut Case

As another year has evaporated and a new one is beginning, I find myself once again trying to resist being mired in nostalgia.  Our youngest child just moved several states away, and the other four are also already established in their adult lives.  Having five children who are making their way in the world is indeed cause for rejoicing, but I instead am resisting a tidal wave of nostalgia that borders on sadness and could very well end in self-reproach, if I allow the undertow to drag me there.  However, Jesus has set before me an open door that no man can shut (Isaiah 22:22).  I can choose, if I like, to remain in a former season of my life, but my desire to dwell there does not change the fact that it is over.   The lights are out in that room of my life; I am no longer a mother of five young children, five young adults, or even one college student.   The end of that era has arrived.  I can shed tears over stories I didn’t read and games I didn’t play because I was busy washing dishes or folding clothes (the business of survival as a mother, which clouds legitimate priorities such as game-playing with one’s children), or I can believe what God says about me:  that I, too, am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and that He knows everything about me (Psalm 139:3), and that, what’s more, He still LOVES me (Jeremiah 31:3). 

God has opened another door, a door into a new season, and He has turned the lights on, HIS light, in that new place.  He urges me to enter through that door and “Come up here” (Rev. 4:1).  However, the choice is actually mine.  I can choose to stay in the old place, which is no longer filled with the daily routine of tending my children and feathering my personal nest; it is now filled with treasured memories, which will be tainted by acute pangs of regret over things I did or did not do, should I choose to dwell in a hollow room and refuse to walk through the door God has provided into this next season.  The Lord cautions us against remaining too long in the womb before allowing Him to birth us into the new place (Hosea 13:13).  From the baby’s perspective, every birth feels like a death until the light of the new place is fully experienced. 

Do I want to stay in the darkened room and begin to believe my own opinions of myself (I didn’t do this or that right; I didn’t love my children enough; I wasn’t a loving and tender wife and mother; I was too labor-oriented, etc.)?  — OR, would it not be better to take a step through the door into the light of this new season God has ordained and experience, together with my husband, grown children, grandchildren, and precious friends, the delights and challenges He has appointed for me?  I don’t want to miss anything for wallowing in the past (with or without regrets that may or may not be unfounded).  The fact is, if I allow myself to be mired in the pit of regret and sorrow (nostalgia gone bad), I am calling God a liar, for yielding to the undertow means I reject the Truth of His love and His Word, the truth of what HE says about me.   Now THAT is a serious place to be. 

Father, I choose to walk through the open door You have provided for me into this new year and this new season of life.   I choose to believe the truth of Your love and care for me.   I choose to believe that You empower me to bear fruit that remains, in spite of my inadequacies and failings.  I choose to believe that You are more than able to compensate for any and all mistakes I have made, for You love my family far more than I do.  I thank You, Father, that You sent Jesus as the Door to ALWAYS being in Your Presence.  I embrace You, the Truth, and invite You to carry me over the threshold into whatever You have chosen for me to do!

“I know your works.  See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it;”  Revelation 3:8aimagesCAI2R0S0

I Don’t Want to Grow Up!

One of numerous vivid memories of my early childhood has spoken much to me of late.   When I was about two and a half years old, I remember running toward the hall closet where my mother kept a pile of shoes readily accessible.  Summertime was approaching; the weather was getting warmer, and I had a sudden impulse to get out my favorite sandals from the previous summer and put them on.  They were white leather, and I was very excited at the thought of wearing them again.  As I approached the closet to get them out of storage, my mother asked me what I was doing.   I replied with delight, “I am getting my sandals!”  To my chagrin, she responded with laughter that I couldn’t possibly wear them that summer, as my feet had grown, and the sandals would be too small for me.   Decades later, I still remember that disappointment.   What is odd, is that I do not remember whether my parents bought me new sandals or not (although they most likely did!).   I simply remember the sadness of not being able to wear the ones I had worn before, the most comfortable and prettiest white sandals in the world, the sandals I loved best. Moreover, I didn’t really understand how my feet could be too big for the sandals that had fit me perfectly. 

The process of growth continued to be a mystery to me.  (“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.”  Mark 4:26-27)  When I was in junior high, I began  to look forward to growing up, because I had begun to grasp that privileges would accompany maturity.  Later, as a college student, I realized that simply growing older wasn’t always characterized by an increase in maturity level!  People may age physically, but maturity is not guaranteed, for, unlike the physical aging process,  gaining wisdom and maturity requires cooperation from the individual!  I also noticed that I wasn’t always terribly eager to cooperate with the maturing process myself, as some of the responsibilities associated with growing up were not so pleasant!

As a young adult who appeared younger than my actual years, I could get by with a little immaturity now and then.   However, I ultimately found that I needed to quit resisting the process and begin to cooperate with the “forward march” of time!   Whether I liked it or not, I had real-life obligations and was not a child (or even a college student — an excuse for much!) anymore.  Behaving in a manner that was NOT commensurate with my phase in life would be equivalent to cramming my toddler-sized feet into the baby’s sandals.   My immaturity would be evident to all, no matter how insistent I was on remaining in the former phase of my development or how much I had enjoyed the previous season!

As Christians, I believe we are guilty of the same kind of resistance to the maturing processes God uses to shape us into His image.   We love the season of childhood with our Daddy, where He caters to our every need and holds us tenderly by the hand.   We love learning to know Him better and experiencing His power.   We long to do great things for Jesus (kind of like playing the part of a superhero when we were children).   We imagine that we are more spiritual than we actually are; the time is then ripe for God to test and hone us.   When that process began full force in my life, I longed to return to that toddler phase and wear my spiritual little white baby sandals.   They were so pretty on my feet, and they were perfectly comfortable.   I didn’t ASK for bigger shoes — just for a little more attention, perhaps!   Nonetheless, in the Body of Christ, we ultimately must repent of wanting to wear our old clothing that no longer fits us.   We need God’s forgiveness for wanting to use His power without true maturity of character and accountability in relationship.   Trials are definitely painful, but they allow His DNA in us to replicate exponentially, as we are compelled to abandon self-indulgence if we ever hope to survive the trial!  

Father, help me to abandon the trappings of past seasons that I treasure and move on into the next phase of my journey with You!   Don’t allow me to resist the tug of Your Spirit to see You work victory in the face of fresh challenges.   Deliver me from the fear of the unknown!  You are with me!  I DO want You to transform me more and more into Your image!  Daddy, help me to strap on the new sandals You have purchased for me and take up the weapons of truth You are putting into my hand, in Jesus’ Name!

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  2 Corinthians 3:18

” Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:51-54