Pressing Ahead, Part 1

“Because Jesus Christ has made me His own.” Philippians 3:12

Letting go and pressing ahead is our theme for the start of this new year, and the last two weeks of GraceWaves have focused on letting go. Now let’s turn our attention to the equally important skill of pressing ahead.

2015 will be like every other year you have lived, 365 days of mostly good days and a few really bad ones. I’d be willing to wager that the vast majority of us will have 360 fair to good days and only 5 bad days. Really. I mean five days when we hear about the death of a loved one, or get a bad diagnosis, etc. We tend to magnify the bad and focus on it. Suffice it to say we will have a mixture of good and bad.

How will we make it? How will we press on?

I am reminded of one of my favorite stories told by Walter Shurden. He tells of the time he was a student in seminary and Carlyle Marney came to speak in chapel. Marney was a famous Baptist theologian, well-educated and well spoken. Shurden wrote that Marney’s sermon was well above the heads of most of the faculty and all of the students in attendance that day. Marney was certainly a deep thinker and not necessarily given to speaking simply especially to a group that was academically oriented. Shurden wrote that in keeping with an age old tradition at seminary everyone left the chapel acting like they knew exactly what Marney was talking about.

Marney was also scheduled to address the class Shurden attended right after the chapel hour. He came to answer any questions the students might have had about the topic. Shurden said that an first year student who didn’t know enough to act like he knew everything stood up and said, “Dr. Marney, I didn’t understand a thing you were talking about in chapel a little while ago. Can you please tell me in simple English, just what is the gospel of Jesus Christ?”

Marney eyed the young man in a rather intimidating fashion. He then turned to the board picked up a piece of chalk and wrote, God Is For You, and he underlined For. “That,” Marney said, “is the simple gospel of Jesus Christ.” He could have underlined you as well.

The mindset for moving forward must be established on a firm and unchanging truth, and the most basic of these is the unwavering love of God for each one of us. “God loves you” is neither trite nor simplistic. It is the most profound truth in your life. It is the good news. He has made you, and has made you His own. Whatever happens this year, good or bad, nothing changes that immutable fact of your existence. The most important truths are the simplest, and this one is simple.

My struggle is that I often give more power to my problems than to the providence of God. If He loves, if He is on my side then what can possibly destroy my peace other than what I allow to?

If you share my struggle, let’s affirm and cling to a simple truth: God Is For You. Now press ahead.


Dr. Terry Ellis

January 11, 2015