Straining Toward What is Ahead…..

Philippians 3

8)What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things……

……..13)one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14)I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

18)For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19)Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is on earthly things. 20)But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

As much as I love this passage, as much as the passage inspires me to keep on keeping on,

I find myself fighting this verse tooth and nail. Struggling to grasp what God is asking of me. Struggling to make sense of His Words.

See, when I think of Nick and Adrienne I don’t want to forget what is behind…..

I can’t.

They were, are, and always will be a part of who I am.

And honestly in losing Nick I have somehow been drawn back to Adrienne in a more powerful way. I think I had tucked away the pain of losing my little baby girl as we tried to “move on” with life as God gave us Todd, then Nick, and then the adoption of Olivia. I always believed that Adrienne was waiting for me in Heaven, so I felt a level of peace.

Life had become busy with five kids and a teaching career. While I always changed the flowers on her grave for every season year in and year out and looked forward to the day when I would be reunited with her, I had somehow suppressed my grief.

So when Nick was first diagnosed with a brain tumor at the age of seven, I remember crying out to God, “Please, no, please don’t take another child from me.”

Then suddenly the loss of Adrienne was overshadowed by the struggle to keep Nick alive.

Tonight I sit here facing the reality that two of my children have gone Home before me.

So, I read the verse about “forgetting what is behind,” and I want to scream, “HOW?! WHY?! WHAT ARE YOU ASKING OF ME?!?!?”

I think I am just now beginning to wrap my mind around the depth of what the verse is saying.

I believe it is not so much about “forgetting” as it is about “dwelling” on what is behind me.

In a race, the victor is generally one who keeps his eye on the finish line. He is not constantly glancing back to see who or what is about to overtake him. He is focused on winning, on reaching his goal.

That’s the kind of spiritual runner I want to be.

Not one who forgets that I am in a race.

Not one who forgets the aspects of my race that have made me the runner that I am.

But one who takes the hurdles as they come yet stays focused on the finish line.

I will never forget Nick.

I will never forget Adrienne.

They are a part of me that can never be taken away.

I hear a whisper from somewhere in my heart, “God doesn’t ask us to forget His Son.” In fact, He calls us to remembrance of Him and His crucifixion every Sunday morning as we gather around the Lord’s Table to break bread. God says, “Do this in remembrance of Him….of me.”

Comfort engulfs me as I realize I am created in the image of My Creator. My longing to remember my children comes from Him who longs for us to remember His Child.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for modeling healthy remembrance.

But as I remember my precious children, I also have to stay focused on the finish line. I must truly “strain” toward what is ahead. I cannot sit down on the track because the race is getting too difficult. I cannot throw in the towel.

I believe that is why Paul wrote these verses in Philippians. He wasn’t trying to tell us that we should forget everything in our past. He was trying to encourage us not to get bogged down in our past to the point that we cannot finish the race victoriously. He knew that one of the devil’s schemes is to keep us so broken from this world’s pain that the thought of finishing the race seems impossible. I cannot let the devil win.

Oh, believe me, I am in a spiritual battle.

My legs are weary. My feet ache.

So, how do I handle this spiritual fatigue from grief while trying to remain strong in the race of my life.

I cling to more and more promises from God’s Word.

I remember that “Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” (Is. 40:31)

I remember that Christ says, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

If you are tired from the race and losing sight of the finish line, I encourage you to search God’s Word for promises that remind you that He will be with you even on the toughest days.

I Thess. 5:11 says, “we must encourage one another and build each other up…”

I want to encourage you today to keep your eye on the prize!!!!

This life may be fleeting, but……..

The prize is eternal!!!

Cheering you on and thanking you for each prayer for me…………….

Through my tears,

13 thoughts on “Straining Toward What is Ahead…..

  1. Oh, Tammy, to have your insight and ability to look at life the way you do–you are amazing to me! I find myself coming to your blog each time I turn on my computer at home (and longing to see if you have posted anything new while at work where I cannot access your site)because each time I read your precious thoughts, I am touched and renewed by your encouraging words. I so agree with what you said about God never intending for us to forget what has happened behind us, I think He is more speaking to our need to accept these happenings, just as we are called to accept His son Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, and move on to what lies ahead with the acceptance and knowledge that his promise of our reuniting eternally in Heaven will be the final prize of our earthly race. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and a glimpse of your pure, sweet soul in this special way. Love & prayers….

  2. Tammy,
    I think you are SO right. I don’t think God wants us to forget. I think just like it is the experience and the dedication and practice of the runner that has helped them gain the skills to win the race, God knows we all need a season of rest, reflection and recuperation.

    He created us this way so we would long for rest and comfort by looking to him. One of my favorite passages is Phil 1:3 and it says “I will thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”

    Even here Paul recognizes the important role that others play in Gods plan and in directing us for what leads us heaven forward to do.

    When I read this passage I read that God doesn’t want us to carry the pain and grief with us. Those things we are to forget. He wants to lift that burden for you when you are ready.

    But no one, not even God(in my opinion) expects you not to grieve. He hurts for you and longs for your smiles again, but he is there for you.

    I am amazed and humbled by your insightfulness during such a spiritual storm and your complete trust in the Lord. He is obviously speaking to you and holding you so close. From this vantage point, knowing that you are under such attack right now, I just want you to know that The Holy Spirit is so all over you and is protecting you. When I read your words and see your hurt but still see such an amazing steadfastness for Gods truth, no doubt God is winning this battle for you and just hold strong. Keep writing, keep remembering those thoughts that inspire posts like this and not only will you come out the victor,but the impact that you are having on others is immeasurable.

    Nick and Adrienne’s are the inspiration for a life lived with more clarity and intention and purpose becuase of their love and your expereince with them, but God is right now in a season of comforting his little girl. He is preparing you for a different sort of race, a harder race for you, but a race that includes these two amazing children as part of that journey.

    Their lives are deeply inspirational and important for all of us who had the privilege to know your children.

    Praying for you friend.

  3. Tammy–Thanks for sharing again. I think you nailed it right on the head–and as a former sprinter, looking back–physically turning our head could cost us a 100th of a second, and cost us a race. We never forgot that other racers were running, in fact they spurred us on even faster.

    I think that is how it is in our lives. We never forget the past–and those we have lost, but we concentrate on God’s loving grace, even remembering how He is bringing us through. Then, we are spurred on to “run the race” for His glory.

    Praying for you today!

  4. Trying to keep my eye on the prize! This life sure gets us distracted. You amaze me. I know you are a humble person and don’t want the compliments, but your desire to encourage others is amazing to me.

    I don’t want to forget a thing but you’re right, it is not some place that we should dwell. Right now I am not even sure how to be praying for you. My heart breaks when I think of how your heart must feel. I know that does not help you any but just know that I love and care about you deeply!!


  5. Oh how I needed encouragement today to keep my eye on the prize. To be reminded that what we do as christians is not futile. There is an end to this madness and we get to spend it in eternity with our Lord! thank you

  6. Fantastic insights. I totally agree, God isn’t asking us to forget, He’s asking us to die to self each and every morning. To forget our old sinful nature and live with Him and breath in His eternity. Through your pain, eternity is more real to you than many of us. And what an extreme priveledge, paid at such a high price. Continue in His strength. In awe ~ Shane

  7. Dear Tammy, Keeping you and the family in prayer, remember the Lord is your strength, and we are the lucky ones as children of a loving Father we do have that promise of eternal life with Him and that we will be reunited with our loved ones.
    Take care my friend, love to you and your family.

  8. Tammy,
    I cannot even imagine the depth of the grief that you are going through…
    but I do know that God will keep you strong for the times when you need it…
    and hold you in his arms when the grief is too strong to bear…

    One day at a time sweet Jesus is all I’m asking of you

    Prayers and Hugs continuing…

  9. GIRL! Thank you for your honesty and sharing your heart! You bless me so! You are in my prayers daily, and I am so thankful for the race you are running and that I have the privilege of being in the stands to watch through your blogs and emails!

    Praise the Lord for His Word!

    Love ya girl!


  10. Tammy, You are so amazingly strong and an inspiration to more people than you will ever know. You are so precious! I have been following your blog for a few months now and I think of you often and keep you in my prayers. And in response to today’s post about folks not knowing what to say: I love your spirit!