Moving Forward

2010 has been a very trying year.  Due to circumstances and financial restraints, a vacation to a destination was just not possible so at the end of the year, my husband and I found ourselves with vacation time.  We did some relaxing and took it easy, but also decided to take a day to tackle the job of cleaning off his desk and sorting through papers.  We have attempted this a few times before, but time and motivation would often escape us and I can’t say I remember the last time we’ve even seen the top of his desk. As we sorted through the mounds of papers, bills, junk mail, letters, receipts and other miscellaneous items, I came across an old sermon that he had once preached entitled The Danger of Not Moving Forward. 

In this sermon, he talked about the need for growth and maturity. Without these things we die.  He went on to use the illustration of the tabernacle.  Three areas of the tabernacle were the Outer Court, the Inner Court, and the Holiest of Holies.  He explained how these three areas had a purpose, preparation, dedication, and revelation.  Towards the end of his sermon made the following observations.  In the Outer Court you have daylight; in the Inner Court you have candlelight; but in the Holy of Holies you have Divine light.  We can’t stay in the Outer Court, what’s the point?  The Inner Court is just a means to reach the next step.  The Holy of Holies is our goal and where we find satisfaction, completion, and most of all, revelation.  We must move forward!  It was a very good sermon.

This morning I was straightening up some books and notes on the table next to my bed and found some thoughts I had jotted down this summer.  I was inspired to write them after hearing a popular song sung at camp called, Moving Forward.  God never ceases to amaze me.  Here at the end of the year, how ironic that these pieces seem to all come together and perhaps God was trying to tell me something. 

A journey begins with a step and is followed by many more of these steps; otherwise we would never get anywhere.  Life sets us on a journey and we grow, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  At some point we begin a spiritual journey.  Some on their way to God, some on their way with God, and sadly, some are walking away from God. 

As with any journey, we will often encounter obstacles and delays.  Traveling on a road trip we come across or are involved in a wreck, delaying our trip, sometimes indefinitely, or just altering our course.  In our spiritual journey we have these as well. Discouragement, reminders of our past, unresolved bitterness, or maybe just illness and other life events will slow down our progress.

Ever been on a road trip and wondered why it took so long to get somewhere until you remember all the stops at restaurants and gas stations.  Perhaps you even stopped to see some sights or historical landmarks.  This is all fine unless they caused you to miss an important appointment.  The world tries to do this all the time.  It wants to distract us from our goal and destination.  Sometimes it wants to try to make us forget that we have someplace to be.  We must remind ourselves that this world has nothing to offer and that our destination is worth all the effort it took to get there.

Sadly to say, sometimes people will even try to interrupt your travels.  Obviously, there are people who have evil intents and would want to harm or rob you, but there are also those people who are just jealous of your journey and instead of trying to make the journey themselves, they’d rather just interrupt yours. Ever had an idea that you thought was good only to have someone tear it apart and give you all the reasons why it won’t work.  People who are bitter are good at this.  Misery loves company and instead of wanting to see you succeed, they’d rather see you fail the way that they have.  Maybe they are jealous because they think your journey has been too easy and they think you should suffer every bit as much as they have, except they have never even bothered to hear your story and realize that you too have suffered, you just have been fortunate enough to work through the struggle.  

Occasionally you are blessed by what I can only describe as angels on earth, people who take every opportunity to help everyone they come in contact with.  I remember staying with my mom in a motel room with my brothers and sisters.  We didn’t have much food and a very nice stranger brought us some homemade chicken noodle soup in a crock pot.  I swore that it must have been an angel.  Maybe my mother knew the person, but in my mind it was a miracle and the best soup I’d ever tasted.  I’ve been privileged to know a few more people like this.  Some of them weren’t strangers, but instead were some of the best leaders and role models.  These people make you feel like your success is important to their own.  They are the wind at your back, helping you to continue on your journey, even at times when you don’t feel like you can find the strength within yourself.  These people don’t try to compete, but they help to establish and improve your stride.

If I’m ever going to get somewhere, I must move forward.  I can’t change the past by going back and trying to relive it.  Of course, I can do my best at making amends, but other than that, the only thing I can do is learn from it.  I can’t make excuses and give all sorts of reasons why I can’t make it or why my weaknesses will prevent me from reaching my destination.  God provides for us and more than makes up for what we lack.  The mistake is trying to attempt the journey alone.  We will fail every time.  God is our constant and most faithful traveling companion. 

As we face another new year, it’s always a good time for us to realign ourselves with God’s plan for us.  We need to take this time to shed off any unnecessary weight that will only slow us down and equip ourselves with only the important items that will aid us in reaching our destination, Heaven.  Please pray for me as I continue on in my journey and I will do the same for you.

I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead.

Here to declare to You my past is over in You

All things are made new, surrendered my life to Christ.

I’m moving, moving forward.

I will follow You, forward.

-Israel Houghton

“Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

 

Believing is Seeing

Many people have lost their ability to believe.  They have become blinded by the harshness of life. Painful events have taken away hope and left them with despair.  Actually, no one ever truly remembers when they had their first encounter with pain.  In fact, they wake up one day with a heart full of bitterness, and the process, though painful, happened so gradually over time that they weren’t able to even reach out for help.  It’s as if you sat in a water bath and someone slowly turned up the heat allowing you to essentially be boiled alive without ever noticing a change in the temperature. 

Have you ever come into contact with a person in this condition?  Perhaps it even happened to someone in your family, right before your very eyes and you felt completely powerless.  These people are often lifeless.  Smiles are often feigned and short-lived.  If they are maintaining a routine it is merely out of habit and nothing more.  Or sometimes these people are highly emotional, prone to fits of anger or bursts of tears for little or no reason.  They resemble a wounded animal and lash out at anyone who attempts to help them.  Sadly, so many people lack compassion or understanding for these wounded souls and never bother to give them a second thought.  It might disturb their comfort zone to have to roll up their sleeves and risk breaking a sweat to invest their time and effort in a person who may or may not appreciate the attempts.

If our only hope was to depend on other people to rescue us, we would all be in sad shape.  Human nature is very self-centered.  What’s in it for me? How would I benefit from this effort?  It would be unheard of that I help someone out of the goodness of my heart.  The truth is, without God, we are nothing.  We are helpless, uncaring, insensitive, and selfish.  Furthermore, helping someone who is sinking in such misery is a very draining task.  We can count on being hurt and our efforts unappreciated.  It is necessary for us to have a relationship with an endless source of love that only comes from God. 

Only God is able to give us peace like a river, joy like a fountain, and love like an ocean.  God never has a bad day. He is constant.  When we ask God to come live in our hearts, He begins a transformation in us that over time will yield results, as in the Fruit of the Spirit.  Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, these things will be evident in the life of a person who is allowing God to transform them and will be the driving force that will motivate someone to reach out to help a discouraged soul. 

Often we are dissatisfied or unfulfilled because we feel as if our lives have no purpose.  God created us with a purpose in mind, to be in communion with Him.  He wanted to have a relationship with a living, breathing, thinking being.  He wanted nothing more than what all of us desire, to love and to have that love returned.  God furthermore understood our needs and was not selfish, but also created other humans for us to share our lives with.  How loving our God must be.  Our lives become complicated when something disturbs the flow of this basic process.  Our lives become further complicated when we forget to involve God in this process and expect humans to satisfy this need alone.

What we have is impaired vision on both sides.  The hurting are blinded by pain and we aren’t able to see the hurting because we are blinded by unsatisfaction.  We need the ability to see and to be seen.  We need God to restore sight to the blind.  The key to our healing and deliverance begins with faith.  Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)

In order to help others or receive help, we must have a vision of a goal.  How can we ever expect to go somewhere without a destination or obtain something if we’ve never seen it? Many motivational speakers or even salesman have already discovered this very useful technique.  When you get of glimpse of what is to come, it inspires you to work hard and do whatever it takes to reach the goal.

This is one of the biggest complaints most people have when it comes to believing in God.  God is a spirit and can not be seen, therefore many find it impossible to believe.  God may not have a physical appearance, but He has shown Himself to us in several manifestations.  As a burning bush to Moses, as a soldier to Joshua, as a Pillar of  Cloud by day and a Pillar of Fire by night to the children of Israel and as a man Christ Jesus to the New Testament world.  We have to remember that God has no limits and if He had chosen to take on only one form, then we might limit what He could do.  Instead, by God choosing not to take on one single image, He is able to show Himself in whatever capacity the situation requires. 

This is something that we have to remember when forming our vision.  We have to allow God to make any adjustments that He sees fit.   There is a danger is becoming rigid in our expectations.  Disappointment in an outcome has been the downfall of many people.  In the same respect, if God chooses to provide in a more abundant manner than we thought possible, we should allow room for this option as well.  Ultimately God knows what is best for us and we must learn to develop a complete trust in Him.

Once we begin to establish ourselves in God, He will inspire us to reach outside of our own lives.  A little effort goes a long way in the task of helping others.  Never underestimate the power of  an encouraging word or an act of kindness.  Some people just need a little help to pick them up.  Others are just looking for a little company to help pass the time along the journey.  Helping someone to catch a vision of better days is a difficult, but rewarding investment. 

Church attendance is one of the most helpful resources in restoring someone’s vision.  How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? …So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:14, 17)  A preacher is more than a glorified story-teller, but the principle is the same.  The minister is a tool in the hands of God.  He takes the Word of God off of the printed page, and when inspired by the anointing power of the Holy Spirit, is able to open the blinded eyes of the discouraged and give them something to believe in. 

The Bible is full of promises to those who believe.  Just as when Jesus spoke to Martha after her brother, Lazarus, had died,  I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. (John 11:25-26)  Another passage gives us this promise, If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. (Matthew 21:22)  Once a father brought his spirit-possesed son to Jesus and his disciples for help. He asked for help with doubt in his voice.  He was met with this response, “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” (Mark 9:23) The father  recognized his weakness and not wanting anything to keep his son from being delivered, asked for help. Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)

When reading the Bible, there are many accounts of the blind receiving their sight.  If God is willing and able to restore our physical sight, which is only a help to us in this present world, how much more must He be willing to restore our spiritual sight that will allow us to accomplish the goal of making heaven our home for all eternity. We all need God to open our eyes to be able to see what He has in store for us, then we must believe.