Turn the Page

Sitting here at the close of another New Year’s Day, I hear Bob Seger playing in my head about the weariness of the journey. He’s talking about the cost of doing the thing he can hardly live without—the only way to spend night after night playing music for people is to keep traveling to find another place and more people to listen.

But this sentiment I find in my own heart as I think of the challenges, struggles, and heartbreaks of 2022 rings with that same idea, the desire to just turn the page and move forward.

You may be wondering what I’ve been through but suffice it to say that it has been the spiritual equivalent of what my old friend Randy (of Hughes County fame) would call a slobber-knockin’ brawl. It was the kind of season that, (spiritually speaking, of course) you pause to make sure you still have all of your parts. In faith terms, you have to look and see how much of it is left.

That sounds rough and appropriately so. But sometimes we need some refining and that is always an uncomfortable, often excruciating process. It’s one that we don’t sign up for because we just don’t have the perspective to recognize how we need it.

Closing the door on 2022, I find myself with a few new scars and some old ones healing up a bit. I have a lot more questions than answers. But I have learned that bringing my questions moves me close to the Answer.

I believe that every part of our story is something that God wants to use to shape us and prepare us and move us forward in the journey of transformation that He has called us to enjoin. And, to be clear, I am not saying that God has caused these painful things that we experience, but rather that the hard things (that are the natural circumstances of living as broken people in a broken world) will surely be used by our infinite God for our good.

We have to learn from the hard seasons. We have to be open to the growing God wants to do in us. We have to let these things make us stronger, more dependent upon God, more in tune with His Spirit.

Then we turn the page.

We have to let go of the hard feelings toward others with different perspectives of the same events and turn the page.

We have to let go of the sour attitudes toward the disagreements and changed relationships and turn the page.

We have to let go of the shipwrecks and stonings and snakebites and beatings and imprisonments… wait a minute… what?

In his letter to the believers at Philippi, the apostle Paul wrote about his overarching focus and desire to be intimately connected to Jesus—to know him more deeply, more personally, more fully. He said he wanted to experience the very power that raised Jesus from the grave. We get that. But he also said he needed to experience some of the suffering of Jesus as well.

That doesn’t make sense to us… until we go through a season of suffering… like Paul did with the shipwrecks and stonings and snakebites and beatings and imprisonments and such.

Paul goes on to explain that he is still learning and doesn’t have it all figured out, but then he makes this statement:

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. 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.

Philippians 3.13-14

Paul said he knew what was asked of him. It wasn’t to go back and try to make sense of every detail. It was to reach forward—straining, he says—into what God has for his life and keep reaching until Jesus calls him home.

Or maybe we could say… turn the page.

I don’t know what heartaches you walked through in 2022. But I know that God is using them to shape you in 2023. Turn the page and let Him write a new chapter in your story.

Go on, now. Turn the page.

You can’t imagine what He might write on the new one.

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