Face Forward

041031-N-2805L-243 On board USS Harry S Truman.   USS Harry S. Truman transits through the Straits of Gibraltar.  USS Harry S Truman is currently participating in the joint maritime course, a multinational NATO exercise being held off the coast of Scotland.  (US Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate Airman Lilliana Lavende) (Released by HST Public Affairs)

Philippians 3:12-14 (NLT)

I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

 

Today is the day. My last day at the place I have worked for the last seven years. I have loved this position and job sometimes maybe just a little too much. I know that all the good days and not so good days have produced an inner satisfaction that I have done my best but it is time to move on. The Lord laid it on my heart some time ago, but I really didn’t pay much attention. I decided to look for some side work for a little extra income. What I found was a brand new opportunity that is exactly what the Lord is prompting me to do. I have a state job. I work for the county. Everyone thinks that they want such an employer with all the perks and benefits. Each position posted for hire produces over a hundred applicants vying for a secure position. When I gave my notice, many could not believe it. Leave a secure state job for a private small business that is unheard of. What about your benefits? What about leave? What about security? Trust me if anyone tried to talk me out of it – they did. I knew when it was time to go because the Holy Spirit laid it on my heart. There was no doubt… until I started to feel the pressure of change, the uncertainty of the unknown and the emotion of leaving my coworkers/team members behind. That’s when it got real…real uncomfortable.

Life will never be perfect as long as I am me. I will never ever make all the right choices in life so I must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me from step to step. It would be a whole lot easier if He wasn’t a still small voice but shouted through a megaphone like a drill sergeant to new recruits. I am hard headed, stubborn and obstinate. No really, I am. The patience and perseverance you see right now are born of God in my life through trials and testing and not my nature. My life has changed dramatically in the last fifteen years. The need to survive turned into thriving under the Lord’s Care and Unfailing Love. Now what? Transition born of obedience is much more difficult than that in desperation because our comfort zone sucks us back in like a warm bed in the morning before sunrise. The alarm tells us to get up and get moving but every fiber of our being says roll over and go back to sleep. We can hit the snooze button or turn it off completely. We do the same thing to the Holy Spirit when He calls us to come not wanting to leave the comfortable place we have created.

“Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead…” is a difficult statement to accept when you really have no idea what the future holds. Trouble is that we have a future in Christ by faith and confident hope. Faith is my investment into hope. But I cannot see hope and its true validity – I can only trust and believe that it is there. Much easier to do when you have nothing to hold on to than when you have everything you need right where you are. I have been challenged to let go of the known to venture into the unknown. But I cannot deny the poking, prodding and provoking of the Holy Spirit to go…

Romans 8:24-26 (NLT)

We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

 

How did I know it was time to go? Well, I prayed a lot about my job over the years. There came a point after I returned from our son’s bone marrow transplant that I felt finished. With piles of projects on my desk, work table and inbox, I just kept moving from task to task but I could sense the Holy Spirit closing the door. How? I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I acknowledge that His Spirit lives inside of me and choose to conduct a relationship with Him. I need Him. He helps me in my weakness. If there is one thing that I have discovered in life is that I need all the help I can get. When I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, I was given hope. I really didn’t know what to do with it or where it was taking me. The Holy Spirit has been to the place we hope for. He knows exactly what it will take to get us there. He knows how awesome it will be when we arrive. I need the Holy Spirit to tell me what to do, how to do it, where to go and when to move. Does it sound crazy? Of course it does most things of God do to the nonbeliever, but to these who believe this is a vital source of wisdom and power that we cannot move forward in Christ without.

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT)

Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

 

We think a life of undeserved privilege moves us to the front of the line but in reality it takes us to the back of it. An encounter with God and His Goodness makes us want to follow and not lead all the time. We discover we like this place called Glory that God is leading us to so we decide to willingly follow and obey look forward to the joy that comes from confident hope.

Jeremiah 7:23-24 (NLT)

“This is what I told them: ‘Obey me, and I will be your God, and you will be my people. Do everything as I say, and all will be well!’ But my people would not listen to me. They kept doing whatever they wanted, following the stubborn desires of their evil hearts. They went backward instead of forward.

We come to the Lord in desperation. We do not want to die or go to hell. We want Him to save us from our sins, but that is not all the Lord wants to do in us and through us. He wants to give us a rich and satisfied life. (John 10:10) Just do what I am telling you to do and your life will get better is the plea of Christ to His People. But once we are saved, we head straight back to our life. Grace now covers us so we are free to sin. Hold on. Not so fast, those who love the Lord will follow Him all others were never sincere to begin with.

My daughter loves the show called “Dancing with the Stars.” I like it too and have found myself watching right along with her. A dancing professional is paired with a celebrity for a televised dance competition. It makes you want to be a dancer – they make it seem so easy and effortless unless, of course, you watch the segments on training and storylines of injuries along the way. To be good, the novice must stay in step with the professional dancer. My success in discovering all the benefits and blessings that God has planned and prepared for my life to prosper is found in my ability to stay in step with the Lord. He has prerecorded every single moment of my life in advance. He provided everything that I need to live it. His Grace is sufficient for every time I misstep or lose my way. I decide if I move backwards or forwards.

Isaiah 58:8-9 (NLT)

“Then your salvation will come like the dawn and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward and the glory of the Lord will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the Lord will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.

I must learn to face forward at all times to prosper in life. It’s tough. The past is familiar and comfortable. Hope lies in the future and cannot be seen. I must trust God to get there from where I am now. Godliness always leads us forward. God leads us from glory to glory. Each new day comes with new mercy because we need it to keep moving ahead when every fiber of our being likes it right where we are. I want what God has planned for my life. Not because I know what it is, but because He has promised that it is more than I would even think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) He promised good out of every detail of my life even those that didn’t turn out like I planned. (Romans 8:28) He said that I don’t have to be perfect because HE is the Perfecter of my life. (Psalm 138:8) His Love for me is unfailing so it never fails to meet my expectation. Moving forward by faith into the realm of hope ahead of us always leads to His Glory and closer to the Lord.

Luke 9:41-43 (NLT)

Jesus said, “You faithless and corrupt people! How long must I be with you and put up with you?” Then he said to the man, “Bring your son here.” As the boy came forward, the demon knocked him to the ground and threw him into a violent convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. Then he gave him back to his father. Awe gripped the people as they saw this majestic display of God’s power.

 

Here’s the scenario – the father brings his demon-possessed son to the disciples seeking deliverance. The disciples try and nothing. So the father comes to Jesus and tells the Lord – “Hey look, I brought my son to your guys and they couldn’t help him. Anything you can do about it?” The Lord tells the man to bring him the boy. As the boy came forward, what happened? BAM! The demon knocks him to the ground and throws him into a violent seizure right there at the feet of Jesus. So stop…I needed to hear this today and maybe you did, too. The Lord has told you what to do. You are trying to be step out on faith. BAM! The enemy knocks you down. Now what? Do you give up? Do you keep moving forward? See you thought God must not be in it because you met opposition. The enemy will stop at nothing to steal God’s Glory. What happened here…Jesus rebuked the evil spirit and healed the boy. What will your outcome be today?

Psalm 37:23-24 (NLT)

The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.

 

Every step of our life is ordered by the Lord. He knows what direction we should go to encounter every blessing put forth in our life. We decide if we will walk in these steps or do our own thing. The enemy will use every tactic that he can think of to stop the Glory of God in our life and stop the Goodness of God from manifesting. If we learn to rely on the Holy Spirit for assistance and become confident in our hope, faith will keep moving us forward. I want what the Lord has for me even though I really don’t know what it is. I just see this step. It is not what I expected but I know it is from Him. I must step out on faith to have what hope offers. I must keep facing forward to be where He is. No looking back. I will miss my friends and coworkers. I am leaving behind a large, spacious office with a big comfy couch. I know that it will be worth it simply because God told me to go!

Psalm 143:10 (NLT)
Teach me to do your will for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.

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