Philippians 3:13 (NKJV)
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,”
Have you ever decided that something has to change, but you feel like it’s an uphill battle? Maybe you’re putting a plan in place and it seems that you can’t get any momentum? Then as you are reaching to take a straw out of the basket life drops another two or three in?
Most of the time the hardest part of change is actually deciding to do something about it. Then there are times when we even start something new only to have the clouds open up with a downpour and we don’t have an umbrella. When this happens it is too easy to just give up and not continue with what we started.
It is like a boxing match where you are prepared and step into the ring ready to win. The bell rings and you come out swinging till you make it to the center of the ring. Then you get hit with a hook and an upper cut combination that stops you in your tracks. You begin throwing your jab as you step backwards till you hit the corner. Now you have two choice, give up and get knocked out before you even get a chance or move forward with a counter and the determination that it’s not going to end there.
In this modern age there are far too many people who don’t get out of the corner and soon find themselves lying face down on the canvas. I for one don’t like the smell of canvas so I am pushing forward inch by inch if I have to. These are the times that may take that little extra determination or encouragement to keep you going. Where do you find that added strength when your reserves are nearly spent?
Even if I have to pause to take a breath or just stand my ground while I keep swinging, I turn to the Lord. I ask for the strength to continue and the guidance to stay on track. When possible, I have searched the scriptures for comfort or drew on the ones that I have memorized. I cannot count how many times this has turned a troubling situation in to forward progress. Too many of us still try to rely on the self-determination that you think you can find deep inside yourself, but sometimes we find there is nothing left.
The bottom line is that no matter if are embarking on a new direction in your personal or spiritual life, no plan is perfect. You may stumble or find some resistance, but even if you falter don’t stop, even if you get knocked down get back up. Don’t quit that diet because you couldn’t resist that jelly donut, don’t stop paying off your debt just because you had to buy that pair of shoes, or don’t go buy a pack of cigarettes because you gave in and got one off a friend. These are bumps we will encounter along the path so we should use this as a reminder that we may resist the next time that bump appears. Keep that positive attitude, keep moving forward, and remember you can lean on God.
Jesus addressed this in John 11:9-10 when he was faced with a situation of either giving into resistance or pushing forward. Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.” If you remain faithful and focused on the task at hand and avoid dwelling on the negative you can keep moving toward the horizon.
Any spiritual changes that we have set in motion should be looked at in the same light. We all have different goals and interpretations of what sin is, but if we backslide or do sin, don’t let it push you back into the shadows you are trying to overcome. God knows we are not perfect and does not love us any less as we find in Romans 5:8. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
We may choose to make spiritual changes that at more in line with the biblical principles outlined in God’s Word. Listed in Galatians 5 we find such acts as sexual immorality, idolatry, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, envy, and drunkenness. But we can easily include lying, stealing, gossiping, continuous vulgar language, or any other behavior that takes away from how we should be honoring God.
Again, if you have chosen to improve in any of these areas what happens if you tell that lie, explode in anger, or talk about that co-worker? Most times we will get that nudge on the inside because we are no longer being that Godly example we should be. When realizing we have strayed we can dismiss it without a thought and let it repeat over and over till we have undone the changes we are trying to make.
Our other choice is to ask the Lord for His grace and forgiveness before we reaffirm our desire to continue with the progress we have made. We are reminded of this in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It comes down to choices, choose to give up on the progress you have made or continue to walk with the Lord on the path he has for you.
I can safely say that I am not perfect, and I know that I will stumble, but I am putting my faith in the Lord and pressing forward. I have no doubt that He will give me the strength to keep moving even during those tough times. So, join me and take his hand and feel His Spirit course through us with no turning back. Now, since this is part two of the poem you have to read the last one, “Let Your Journey Begin,” before beginning, “Walking By Your Side.”
WALKING BY YOUR SIDE
All the mounting hardships are like mud on a slippery slope,
Then add in the worries and soon I feel I just can’t cope.
The rain starts coming down harder adding to the muck,
My feet are sinking deeper into the mire causing them to get stuck.
It’s hard to get any traction when I’m living my life in retreat,
These are the times I want to give up and just lie down in defeat.
I feel like I’m just running in place trying to find my way,
Release me from what’s holding me back and clear my path today.
Child, I have you protected from all that’s causing you dread,
See the sun beginning to peek out from dark clouds overhead.
Now keep your eyes on the horizon and I will be your guide,
We will forge ahead together with me Walking By Your Side.