Sunday, October 27, 2013

What Is My "Next"?

My church just kicked off a brand new series this weekend called "Next: Moving From Here to There".  As with so many messages I've heard in my time at Seacoast, the message this weekend felt like it was being directed at me.  I once asked our pastor when they planted the hidden cameras in our home because the messages were so relevant to what we had been going through since losing Peyton.  This was one of those messages.  You'll soon be able to find this particular message in the online resources for the church.  I'd look for it if I were you.  Just sayin.

The message centered around the story of Joshua.  After the death of Moses, Joshua was called upon to step up as leader.  Can you imagine having to step into those shoes?  The loss of Moses was tremendous, yet God had a plan for someone {Joshua} to have a next step.  Joshua's "next" called for him to step out in complete faith and trust in God who told him:
"Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them.  Be strong and very courageous..."  {Joshua 1:6}
Over and over Joshua is told to "be strong and courageous".

We all have a "next".  It doesn't have to follow a loss such as Joshua experienced.  It could be job or finance related.  It could be a calling to ministry.  I don't know where you are in your life, but I know the season that I am in.  I am in a season of grief after losing my precious 6 year old daughter.  The points our pastor made in his message made so much sense to me:
Honor the past, but recognize that you can't stay there.
Slowly but surely, I have been working on Peyton's room and some of her belongings.  The biggest step so far was taken last weekend when we disassembled her crib.  It is such a difficult position to be in.  This was perhaps the saddest moment of our journey of grief since the loss itself.  It was a horrible task that no parent should have to undertake, but it was a necessary one.  I could have left it up.  The crib could still be sitting there 5 years from now, with the same bedding and toys on it that were present the day we took Peyton to the ER.  But where would that get me?  I recognize that the crib is not Peyton.  There are memories attached to it, but once the personal effects were removed, it was just a crib.  Getting past the removal of her sheets and pillow allowed me to take a step forward in faith, trusting God that this was a step in the right direction.  To leave everything as is forevermore would be to leave me stuck in a place of great sorrow.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not close to being through the grief process, but this was one of the step that I needed to take in order to move towards a place where I might be able to find my "next."
Keep moving ahead, especially when you are scared.
People keep saying that they don't know how Ron and I are doing it.  Getting through life.  I don't think that "I" am doing it at all.  I think that through the strength, grace, and mercy of our loving God we are able to move throughout each day.  Our days don't make sense.  A huge part of our life is absent.  There is a gaping hole.  It doesn't matter how full of medical challenges Peyton's life was.  I miss her tremendously.  Life isn't the same.  Three of our four children are with the Lord - one through stillbirth, one through miscarriage, and then Peyton.  It doesn't make sense that this is our story, but it is.  God has already written our story.  He wrote this story filled with one "next" after another for a reason.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  {Jeremiah 29:11, NIV}
This is a verse that I have been clinging to for a very long time.  There is such hope for a "next" in this verse.  God wants the very best for us.

"Peyton's Field of Flowers" by April Knight
I also know this:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."  {Romans 8:28}
In all things, God has a plan.  That is how we can be assured that He does in fact have a "next" for us.  He doesn't say that only in the good times will we have a "next".  He says that "all things work together for good".  Even in a life filled with daily struggles with a medically challenged and severely disabled child.  Even in a life that includes the passing of that child.  There is a "next".

The message was clear this weekend - Keep moving ahead, especially when you are scared.  I feel so lost at times since Peyton passed away in May.  What is this life supposed to be like without her?  I don't understand it.  It doesn't make sense.  I trust in God that He has a plan.  I just don't know what that plan is - and it makes life seem rather uncertain and scary sometimes.  I don't know what today is going to bring, or tomorrow or the next day.  I do know that I trust in God that He has already authored my story, and if He has written it, then it is good.  And so I choose to move forward, scary as it seems sometimes.  I don't know what it will look like, but I know that it will be good.  Our lives were forever blessed and changed because of Peyton.  He has abundantly blessed us with her in her life and through her in her passing.
Encourage yourself with God's word.
In short, the Bible is God's Word.  It is full of encouragement and hope that we need to meditate on.  There is a verse for every season of life found in this book.  I don't think it is enough to simply read the words on the page. It must be meditated upon "to extract all of the spiritual nutrients out of the word."  {Pastor Greg Surratt}

I surely do not know what my "next" is going to be.  I feel like there has to be something beyond where I am at right now.  I feel like Peyton's legacy isn't over.  I feel like there is more to be done because of her.  There is a "next".  I will move towards it in faith, knowing that God will provide all that I need to reach it.
"And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in  Christ Jesus."  {Philippians 4:19, NLT}

* message points taken from 10/27/13 sermon by Pastor Greg Surratt, Seacoast Church.
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