As I near my fifties, I am more aware than ever that life changes are all around no matter who you are or what stage of life you are in. You watch a baby learn to walk or a high school senior walk across a graduation stage. A middle age friend you know is walking into another job interview hoping for a breakthrough or you may be a person approaching the empty nest phase walking into a new season. Maybe you have family member walking into the doctor’s office to receive potentially bad news. Or you may be staring into retirement wondering how this walk will turn out.
I recently talked to a friend undergoing lots of life change. Some of the stories of what this man has been through is staggering. My friend told me that he just feels like his walk consists of taking “one step forward and two steps back”.
Notice the common word used in each one of these examples…walk.
Author and pastor, Eugene Peterson referred to our walk in the Christian life as a “long obedience in the same direction.” The challenge with most of us is that we base our view of progress with our human eyes and even our emotional judgement. We may not notice good movement forward and may not feel like things are progressing along in life. All human evidence suggests God is not doing anything and like my friend we feel like we’ve taken two steps backward.
My encouragement to you is to remember that God’s agenda for your life might not be the most pleasant road at times. Pleasant isn’t God’s goal, though Is it? At the core of our lives is a reality we must understand and that is God’s goal for us is to bring Glory to Himself by making us more like Jesus or into “little Christs” as CS Lewis put it. God is willing to pay the highest cost to Himself in order for that to happen. Christ’s death on the cross is the ultimate evidence that God is eternally serious about bringing His agenda to pass in your life. That is, if you are willing to undergo the complete treatment, accomplished throughout a lifetime.
So, I want to encourage you today to walk. Remember the truth of God’s Word and the reality of God’s agenda and walk forward courageously into the next moment of your life. Individually, this is true and as a church this is true as well. We have unknown scenarios in front of us as we seek to find God’s choice for our next Lead Minister. We are still in a waiting season to find out if we are going to change locations.
The good news is we don’t walk alone. In this community of believers called “church”, we walk alongside others in this journey. In fact, the scenarios I used as examples are our stories, but we can add dozens and dozens of other stories to this just within the context of Longview Christian Church.
This past year, I have met with several high school guys at Chick-Fil-A at 6AM on Friday mornings. I’m not sure if they show up for the friendship, the time in God’s Word, or for the chicken! Regardless, this past semester we have been memorizing Romans 12 which is filled with so much practical wisdom about living together in Christian community. The Apostle Paul gives wisdom we can apply as we all walk forward into the unknowns of this earthly life.
Romans 12:1-2 states, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Part of the walk forward, which may feel like two steps backward, is to continually let God transform your mind as you offer yourself to Him continually. Nestled further into this chapter is Romans 12: 12 where Paul says “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer”.
The entire chapter of Romans 12 is about learning to walk faithfully in this life as God prepares us for the next. God wants to transform our lives, use us through the gifts He has given, and teach us how to love others in the body of believers.
I am also aware of another reality as I walk, which is a deeply engrained desire to control the outcome of the next step in the walk. We all have a deeply self-focused desire to make sure our next step results in the outcome we desire. As you mature in your walk, this will even become more apparent as Paul expresses back in Romans 7. But, at the same time, the person honest about this aspect of their walk comes broken and repentant before God leading to a Spirit-led joy (Rom 7:25) and a desire to walk forward toward others in love.
So, if you are struggling in your walk, I encourage you to read Romans 12 again and again. Better yet, read it with a friend or two and let God’s Spirit guide you in discussing His Word. Perhaps in doing so God will give you the courage to take the next step toward Him. And maybe even give you the nudge to encourage someone else to do the same.
Learning to walk together,