Friday, July 14, 2017

Our First Lasts

Our first lasts have begun...

the last time we will host Bible study in our home...
the last time we will attend playgroup...
the last time we buy the big block of cheese at the store...
the last time we will hug certain people as they are traveling until after we leave...

And as David said to me recently,  "Lasts are not nearly as fun as firsts."

Each last tears a little bit more of our hearts apart as we prepare to say good-bye once again to a place and people we love.  As the lasts have started and things around the house have begun to filter out into the lives of others,  I could not help but to remember one of our newsletters sent out many years ago as we experienced another last...
"It was time. The cars were packed. The rooms empty. We walked around the yard reminiscing about the special times we had there. The boys slid down the slide one last time. We entered the house, tears now streaming down each of our faces.
Wendi’s voice cracked as she tried to tell of some of her favorite memories in each room. “I can remember sitting in a chair in that corner holding you and rocking you as a baby, Caleb. Nathan, when you were learning to walk, you used to push your toy up and down this hall. Up and down. Up and down.”
We sat in the living room, holding hands and prayed together over our going and the new family’s coming. Tears continued to flow, but at the same time, joy entered in with the whisper of a phrase, “For the joy set before you.”
Leaving our home this past month was a time consuming and emotion-laden event. At times, it hurt so much that it was hard to breath. Much of the time, we pushed through out of sheer obedience, knowing that God’s power and your faithful prayers were all that saw us through. But why? Why go through the heartache, the struggle and the hardship of it all?
For the joy set before us.
For the joy of obeying God and knowing Him more deeply set before us; for the joy of being used by Him for the exact purposes for which we created us. For the joy of bringing His word to those who have never heard it in a way that truly speaks to their heart; for the joy of knowing you and forming deeper friendships and relationships with each of you. For the joy of seeing lives, including our own, transformed by the power of the Living God.
Anyone’s circumstances might be difficult beyond imagination at any given moment, but we press through for the joy set before us. We press through because Jesus endured the cross for the joy set before Him. (Hebrews 12:2) We press through to follow His example and because you and I were the very joy which was set before Him on the cross. We are the motivation for His pressing through.
So as we press through, we seek to get closer and closer to the joy set before us..."

Once again we find ourselves pressing onward toward the joy set before us.  Not necessarily the joys of seeing family, eating Chick Fil A and understanding the language spoken around us.  While these joys are real and we look forward to them greatly, we press forward into the joy of knowing that God is not finished with us yet.  While much of the future is unknown to us, we press onward into the joy that God is good and His plan for our future is good.

The first lasts have begun and we press through, seeking ever closer and closer to the joy set before us.
 

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