TURN THE PAGE
Further, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Philippians 3:1
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. Revelation 21:1-2
It is definitely not easy to step into the next stage of life. As we look back through our lives, we realize that life definitely goes by way too fast. Years seem to change like days of old, and the person we use to see in the mirror is gone and replaced with someone that was not that young looking person we remember ourselves to be. We all begin another stage of life today as we move forward into the future. Every day that passes allows us to see just how precious life and relationships can be, but for some of us we are so busy that we miss out on the ability to truly enjoy the life in front of us. We have scheduled ourselves out in such a way that we fly through the day and miss out on the opportunities to enjoy the moments with God, family, friends and even strangers. We are constantly zipping through the days and they all become such a blur until we are forced to slow down and realize everything that we have missed. And when we are forced to slow down, we realize that we have missed some of the best chapters of our lives and begin to find ways to recapture the past to no avail.
Today's blog is entitled Turn the Page for a reason. I have been serving in student ministry now for almost 30 years and I have watched so many students and families walk in and out of my life over those years. Some of those students are now adults with jobs and families of their own. Others are in the prime of their single life and enjoying learning how to adult for the first time. Yet, others are beginning a new journey in college and realizing the true meaning of freedom and the consequences of their decisions. Some students and their
families are beginning a brand new journey with me and it is just as exciting as the very first group of students that God allowed me to walk with all on my own in Metter, Georgia. As we have been talking about pressing on and finding our fortitude, I am constantly reminded by the memories that surround me in my office that turning the page is a true factor of life. Yes we have seasons in certain locations, but when we truly find our passion, we blink and realize the 1,000's of families that have been compiled into this book called ministry and it blows my mind that God would ever allow a misfit, failing ginger the privilege to be a part of their journey. Somewhere in the life of these families, I have a footnote or a few sentences in their life story and I know that for some I was able to truly make a huge impact. For others I know I probably fought and stressed them out as they were discerning their place with God. Some I know that I may have caused to step away from God and I know that will cause me to have a great conversation with God on that failure in my book. But all in all, I have had the honor to choose to serve God and watch as every step of the way He has called me to turn the page. I have walked in confidence some days... defiance some days... fear some days... and joy most days, but one thing I continue to keep in my sights, is that God is the Author and I am merely the actor of my faith.
I know that I cannot even come close to comparing myself with the patriarchs and/or matriarchs of the faith, but reading the two Scriptures for today helps me to realize that there are some days I have to turn the pages back and realize the places I have already been to truly see God's hand. And some days I need to turn the pages forward to begin writing and discerning the direction in which God is leading me next. We do press on and we do need to recognize where we have been simultaneously. We cannot be one without the other, but we cannot dwell on either for too long. Paul recognizes that his past has led him to where God needs him now in the moment. Paul realizes that there is so much more in store once he turned the page and allowed God to truly take control of the entire situation. It is a beautiful thing to read and see as it is played out in Paul's life, but it is one of the most difficult situations to live out in our personal lives. But we must also realize what our true goal and final destination is intended to be in the end. Our goal is that all of our stories end the same... by living for eternity with God in heaven. But the chapters leading up to the final pages will NEVER look the same. All of our lives take different directions as we navigate this journey and we continue to struggle to find the same path to God as our neighbor. We may come into a relationship with Christ and secure our eternal destiny at a very young age and someone else may be breathing their last breath and finally turn the page into eternity. Remember, we are all going to spend eternity somewhere and that page will eventually have to be turned, but the question will continue to remain on where you will spend eternity and that decision must be made before the last page is turned.
I say all of that to say this one important thing. None of us knows what the days ahead will contain. We have no idea if Jesus will come back tomorrow or not in our lifetime. We have no idea whether COVID is over or just the beginning of something worse. All we know is that evil is in the world and is doing everything possible to find a way to separate us from fulfilling the greatest commandments of loving the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and
strength, and loving our neighbor as ourselves. We are finding new ways to break our communities apart instead of finding new ways to bring us together. Looking over the last 2 years I have watched as satan has been able to pull us apart using things like war, racism and now vaccinations. Satan is doing everything possible to divide and conquer and we are allowing it to happen. What is going to be next? I don't know, but as I have already said, I know what the final page is going to look like. Read it again with me, Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband." That is the end of my story. So every day I will continue to turn the page and do everything I can to live a life that helps to bring others along for eternity. My goal is not to be alone on that last day, but hopefully to bring the thousands of families I have impacted and so many more along with me. It doesn't matter if my part in your story has been a footnote, asterisks, or multiple chapters, what I am saying is when we turn that final page, the AUTHOR of all things will write the last part. I hope and pray that you see and take hold of the words I write today. They are not jumbled but well thought out as I prepare to take on today, turn the page and allow God the access to help me write today's chapter. Love you guys and have an amazing day.