After New Year’s, my Facebook was flooded with posts of people kissing 2016 goodbye. I pictured people celebrating with shovels instead of noisemakers, and ending the year trying to bury it six feet under.
I began to search Scripture, because I knew that it tells us to number our days (Psalm 90:12). The attitudes I was reading toward 2016 felt more like “burying days,” not “numbering days.” While searching, I recalled a conversation I had years earlier.
I was teaching middle school and led a weekly Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) meeting in my classroom. (The irony of this role in my life is a great story for another day). This opportunity allowed me to be mentored by the FCA staff, who would come to the school and pray with me and extend encouragement.
The day the conversation occurred, I had received a phone call, that quite honestly, rocked my faith. I knew my mentor was coming to visit, and I was frustrated when a familiar face did not walk through the door. A new mentor had been assigned to me. I needed a friend and I didn’t feel like opening up to a complete stranger. Thankfully I did, because if I had not, I would have missed a divine appointment. You see, God had sent me someone who had lived through the exact circumstances that were currently devastating me!
As I spoke of hurt, she spoke of hope. As I spoke of death, she spoke of life. I could not see how God could possibly use this kind of hurt for good, but she could because she was a survivor. She shared with me a vision God gave her of Tombstones and Stepping Stones. One I would like to share with you now.
As we journey through life we experience highs and lows. God gave her a vision of how His people were responding to the low times. She saw before her, people burying hurts and marking them with tombstones. A graveside is a place where people go to mourn. He showed her how His people were not moving forward because they kept returning to this graveyard of broken dreams and mourning.
He then revealed to her how he wants to turn our tombstones into stepping stones. The hard places are where we learn to step up and step out further into our true identities as believers. In The Bumps Are What You Climb On, Warren Wiersbe says, “God doesn’t promise to remove the stones from the path, but He does promise to make them stepping-stones and not stumbling blocks. He promises to help us climb higher because of the difficulties in life!”
If we try to bury the hard years and never think of them again, we never allow ourselves to develop the wisdom we need for the future. (see Psalms 90:12)
In Jenny Simmons’ refreshingly honest memoir The Road to Becoming she shares her journey through the death of a dream. In it she writes:
“The Christian faith is one masterful story of life emerging from the grave. We are a resurrection people who audaciously believe the ultimate end of our story is life – not death. Because of this, we are free to mourn and bury as people of hope and not desperation. And this is good news since quite a bit of life is spent burying – plans, dreams, relationships, jobs…”
Don’t mark 2016 with a tombstone. Graves are empty shells for the believers. While this life might be spent burying, remember that God is NOT in the mortuary business. He is in the resurrection business!
You have way more promise and hope in your story! He wants to take every single heartbreak, misstep, wrong turn, and broken dream you have created a tombstone for and recreate it into a beautiful stepping stone that you can proudly walk upon knowing with every step He is guiding your journey!
There is not a single part of your journey ever wasted. How can I know this for sure? Because Psalms 56:8 says, “You yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your records.”
Oh my dear reader, He is not holding records to use against you. He loves you so much that He cares about everything that happens in your life, especially the parts that bring you pain. Your tears are in a bottle.
Don’t walk away from 2016 without reflecting on how far He has brought you. Number those hurtful days, don’t bury them.
Give him everything and allow Him to craft a stepping stone that will lead you forward into greatness.