Five years ago I moved from Janesville to Wausau to take a new ministry position. I was moving to smaller living quarters so I rented a single car garage size storage unit in Janesville and filled it with 100 boxes of books and another 100 boxes of paperwork and items from my parent’s estate that I had not been able so sift through. Of course, it was all so important I just had to keep all that stuff! After five years I have only been to the storage unit a few times and most of that “treasure” is still there. So, I have been paying rent for five years on a storage unit for things I haven’t used, looked at or really needed. I could have bought a motorcycle or had a good vacation or two with that money!
Holding onto the past can prevent us from moving forward into the future with freedom and vitality. The writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that, “For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal…”
When I am holding tightly to previous seasons of life, it makes it all the more difficult to be fully present in moments of today. What season are you in? What holds you back? What keeps us from being fully alive as a church or as society?
This week we celebrate the USA’s independence from British control. Freedom and fierce independence is an American trait. Yet, to fight a pandemic, the season of personal independence must give way to a new season of love and concern for our neighbor. We have lived in a season of separate and unequal which needs to give way to a new season of equity and justice.
Life is full of different seasons. Some seasons come upon us and some we may choose. Sunday I was reminded of Paul’s Damascus Road experience. Upon encountering the living Christ, Paul went from persecuting and killing Christians, to becoming the great apostle evangelist. Fortunately his previous season of animosity toward Christ did not hold him back from new life! He declares in Philippians 3:13: “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
It’s time to empty out some junk in my life so that I can move forward to a higher calling, a more abundant future. What about you?
May this devotion provide you with a moment of faithful reflection and care. You are involved in ministries of justice and witness, in ministries of standing up and standing with people working to create better systems and communities, in ministries of learning and searching and researching to become more aware and awakened, more technologically savvy and proficient, more virtually and personally present in your churches and communities and world. Each of us who serve as members of your Wisconsin Cabinet write these devotions in grateful prayer for you – for sustenance and buoyancy, for strength and courage, for safety and just actions, and for faith and love to be full and fulfilled in your daily lives. God’s grace and blessings, God’s challenge and healthy discomfort, God’s Spirit and energy be with you, in the hope Christ offers us all.