It is important to have an aim and a goal as we plan for the future. As a College, that is why we are currently involved in strategic planning, looking ahead at the next four years, and asking the question – what will the school look like in 2019? When we go somewhere we should be able to see the ripples of our life in our rear-view mirrors. It’s a bit like being an Olympic swimmer. The stronger we swim, the more waves that we create in our wake. Moving forward leaves a trail behind us. In our Christian lives we refer to this as the fruit. What kind of fruit are we leaving behind us? How strongly are we swimming? Are we heading somewhere? What are the answers to these questions as individuals, and as a College?
If we are putting our faith into action, we should see the Holy Spirit at work. If we plant the seed, the well-known parable says that the Holy Spirit will take over, and a harvest will come. This will happen even if we cannot see the outcome straight away. Our challenge is to be consistent, not tire and never give up. One of the things we need to be wary of is digging up our own seed. If it is placed under the ground and tended faithfully, it will germinate when the conditions are right. And God is the one who waters the seed.
There are six things about progress and change that I would like to share here.
Moving forward is internal
It is about much more about our mentality and a heart attitude than it is about our circumstances. Psalm 84:5 says, “Blessed are those whose strength is in You, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage”
Pilgrimage talks about the journey that we are on. Proverbs 15:24 says, “The path of life leads upward for the wise.”
Moving forward doesn’t mean there will be no difficulties
When blessing comes, challenge often follows. When we take ground, it means the enemy is losing ground and seldom gives up without a fight. Have you ever noticed that as soon as you make a declaration for God, ‘all hell seems to break loose’? We need to get used to the fight – to be people of strength and to be overcomers.
Moving forward is normal for the Christian life
Psalm 23 says, “He leads me in the paths of righteousness”.
Our attitude should not be to be average, but excellent; not to stand still, but to advance; not to be afraid of change, but to embrace it. The problem with doing things over and over again is that if we keep doing this, our well-worn path becomes a trench. Eventually the trench gets so deep that we can’t even see over the top, and we can only keep repeating what we know. Eventually, we can be unable to get out of the trenches in our lives. We should never aim to do just enough, but aim to exceed expectations.
Moving forward brings divine direction
It is always easier to steer a moving vehicle than a stationary one. If you don’t know for sure what to do … do something. It is better than doing nothing, and God promises to guide us. It is amazing how many promises of God follow this principle – when we do our part THEN God fulfils his promise. We need to plan, but also to acknowledge that God’s plans are greater, and we are here to do his will, NOT the other way around. If things don’t work out (according to our plan), then God’s plan is the best way forward, despite what it looks like in the short-term. That is why it is so important to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, AND HE WILL guide your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Psalm 37:23 says, “the Lord delights in the way of the man whose steps he has made firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”
It is always the right time to move forward
The story of Israel is about the exodus from Egypt and the path to the promised land. The story has many twists and turns, but in Exodus 14:15, it says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.'”
Paul writes… “forgetting what lies behind and reaching to what lies ahead. I press on towards the goal for the prize.” (Philippians 3:13-14)
Moving forward is a lifestyle not a response to an event
Don’t postpone beginning something by being too cautious, or by waiting for some event. I remember being asked once, “How sure do you have to be before you put a plan into action?” I was brought up to be a naturally cautious person (the emphasis had been more about getting things right), and I had never considered this question before. My answer was that once I had researched things thoroughly, I am content to embark on something if I am 80% certain, as I can always adjust and improve things afterward. I would suggest that you can’t grow without taking some risks, and God’s plan for us is to grow. It is normal for us to grow. It is a sign of health. God prunes the vines on the branches so that they can grow (but pain can be part of this process) but the outcome can result in great joy, progress and a fulfilled life.