I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to move forward. Not just as pastor of a young church still searching for footing, but also as a man, husband and brand new dad (albeit foster dad). What does it even mean to move forward?
Webster lists a crowd of synonyms for the word “forward” – advance, cultivate, encourage, further, incubate, nourish, nurse, nurture, promote: moving, tending, or leading toward a position in front; also : moving toward an opponent’s goal. Definitions include – advocating an advanced policy in the direction of what is considered progress or extreme, radical: of, relating to, or getting ready for the future <forward buying of produce>.
Does moving forward require that one be in a constant state of forward movement, or might it be necessary at times to take a step or two backwards in order to get the correct footing in the process of moving forward? Proverbs 3:5-6 says God makes our path straight as long as we lean solely on His understanding, not on our own. So, does that mean if there’s a curve or even a slight back track, that I’m NOT leaning on God? I thought for sure I’d put God first in my life. And wait right there, if I’m a pastor and feel this way, what does that imply about the “normal” follower?
I read in Philippians 2:13 that God is at work in in each of us instilling the desire AND power to do what pleases him. Isaiah 3o:21 says my ears will hear a word pushing me along saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” anytime I turn to the right or left. Knowing that, why is it that I still find the need to stop and regroup every once in a while?
Our three year old absolutely loves the movie “Rio.” I’m here to tell you, after seeing it for the 30th time, she’s laser focused anytime it’s on. I have to literally stand between she and the tv to break her concentration. Boy does she get frustrated. Ya know I’m really not trying to ruin her day. I usually just want to share some earth shaking information about picking up toys or finding her sippy cup. More than anything, I want to know that she responds to my voice when I ask her to do something. I guess that’s what I’m learning about my relationship with God everyday I spend with these kiddos.
I’m learning to listen, even when that means I have to back up to the point I last heard Him most clearly. Jeremiah 29:11 says God has a plan for me. A plan for you. A future planned for each one of us. A prosperous future in Him. Knowing that, I’m learning to stop and ask myself whether I’m pointed the direction He has charted for me, or if I’m just locked onto course with autopilot rather than allowing Him to stand at the helm.
James 1:5 calls us to ask for wisdom. I’ve found myself doing a lot of that lately and what I’m learning most clearly is that backwards doesn’t mean failure. Backwards doesn’t mean one is moving in the wrong direction. Sometimes the right thing to do is going back to the last fork in the road in order to head the best direction. I’m learning that moving forward might just require going backwards.