When I wrote my first How to get through 2021 post, I did not expect to write another one the next month and certainly not to write another one the month after that. But this seems to be exactly what I'm doing.
In my first installment, I talked about how Day by Day interaction with God will help us get through difficult times, In the second I mentioned about how true Shoulder to Shoulder fellowship will aid us in that journey. That should be it, I thought. If God is not all encompassing enough relying on and serving others who are also relying on and serving God should fill in the gaps.
Well there seems to be a third ingredient in progressing through difficult times and I was reminded it of last night when listening to Spotify. I was listening to a song by Billy Sprague , a musician, song writer and performer who years ago lost his fiance in a car accident. She was driving to one of his concerts when the accident occurred. He took a 3 year hiatus from recording and touring and his 2nd release after his return led off with the song, Press On.
Although Sprague certainly did not write this song for Covid the emotions expressed are similar to the results of living in lock-down.
Consider these lyrics
... the passion for life drained like blood from my chest
And it took more than my will just to take a step when the compass of hope was gone.
Every desperate prayer seemed like heaven refused and some days I found faith meant just tying my shoes and it was all I could do to press on.
In shampoo bottle parlance, if Day by Day is wash and Shoulder to Shoulder is rinse then Press On is repeat. Pressing on is a continuation of trusting God and walking along side each other through our trials and our joys.
Look at the Shoulder to Shoulder living happening in the 2nd verse...
On the oceans so lonesome I was not left alone
had some heavenly friends when my heart was a stone
and they carried my heart ache and made it their own
when the current of sorrow was strong.
(and one said)
"I pray your memories will not drag you down
not be anchors but treasures of the love that you found"
and his kind words turned hurt into comfort somehow
and the wind in my sails to press on.
I think at least those of us in western society consider pressing on a solitary activity. I think it is actually quite communal. There are heartaches every in life that could be greatly benefit from a group of people making it their own. Even as I was writing this, a friend called to invite me to a church service on Easter which reminded me how his own father said kind words to me on an Easter Sunday some 30 years ago that put the wind back in my sails. I'll save that story for another time.
In Philippians Chapter 3 the Apostle Paul discusses the concept of pressing on. In verse 9 he talks about attaining a righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith in Christ. In verses 10 and 11 he talks about knowing Christ through his suffering , death and resurrection. In verses 12 and 14 he describes how he is progressing to this point but having not yet reached it and how he is pressing on towards that goal. In the 2nd part of the 13th verse he writes something that describes a successful strategy for combating grief, co-vid or anything that life throws at us ...
Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead. Philippians 3:13B (NIV)
Paul as he often does is using his words to assign priorities. The past can be very instructional to us but we should never let it define us. Grief doesn't define us. Lock-down shouldn't define us. A Christians goal should be to become more like Christ. We can do that by pressing on and we weren't meant to that alone.
I think this may be it, but who knows, there is still a lot of 2021 to get through and I know a lot of songs.