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Thursday, January 23, 2014

You "underway"?

If you have a tendency to think you need to "have it all together" in order to "do life", you probably have been pretty disappointed with just how much you find yourself struggling to even get it together in the first place - let alone keeping it together!  We limit our potential whenever we think "perfection" is the goal and WE are the ones to actually accomplish this goal!  My friends, perfection IS the goal (Christ), but WE are not the ones going to accomplish the goal (salvation and all the "clean up" which comes with it). All we can do is head toward it - Christ is actually the one beckoning us on and he will be the one who gets us over the finish line!  

I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me. Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward—to Jesus. I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.  (Philippians 3:12-14 MSG)

All Christ expects of us is to get "well underway".  In nautical terms, when the ship is said t the "under way", it carries the idea of having begun to move - not necessarily the idea of traveling under its own power or at lightning speed!  In fact, in the old days, before we saw the advent of diesel turbines, ships were powered by the elements of nature such as the wind and the flow of the current.  It was an external power which they had to tap into in order to "get under way".  It really isn't much different for us - we need an external power to affect us in order to get us "underway".  Once that "external" power becomes something we allow to move us, we find we begin to embrace this power as the means by which we make progress in our lives. 

It is not the power of suggestion, or even the independence of will-power, which gets us across the finish line.  It is the external power of Christ brought inward within our lives until it affects us, moving us little by little in the right direction.  If you have ever seen an baby learning to walk, you know how important it is for them to have things they can reach out to as they take the next step.  In fact, if there isn't anything near enough, they won't venture away from what they have in their reach.  They toddle back and forth on the object they hold so dearly to, but as soon as they reach the end, they just don't go further.  They need the stability of whatever gives the sense of "standing strong".  

I don't think we are very dissimilar.  We need the stability of whatever we think will give us strength and help us to stand strong.  As soon as we reach the end of whatever it is we are holding onto, we just freeze.  What we often fail to see is the hand reaching out to us to beckon us forward - to take the step of faith we need to take in order to reach the next phase in our lives. As long as we hold tightly to what gives us "anchor" we won't ever be able to "get underway".  This is why it is important to look at what might be anchoring us in the present position we occupy.  It could be fear - or even pride.  Either way, neither of these will help us reach our destination.

In this passage, Paul has just stated a long laundry list of things which he had previously believed lent important to his life and credibility to his relationship with God.  In the end, he found these religious pursuits only anchored him into a life of futility - walking back and forth across the same path, unwilling to let go of what gave him anchor.  Religion is like that - it gives us anchor, but to the wrong stuff!  It anchors us to what we can do ourselves and doesn't stretch us beyond our capacity, nor does it build our faith.  It wasn't until Paul was willing to let go of his hold on religion and enter into the freedom of relationship that he recognized his life as being finally "underway".

The same is true with us - we have to let go of this "religious" stuff we get so anchored to and begin to reach out to the hand beckoning us onward.  Nothing puts more "wind in our sail" than relationship - nothing anchors us right where we are more than religion.  All religion can do is keep us focused on the rules and develop more frustration inwardly each time we don't adhere to those rules the way we believe we should.  What relationship can do is to begin to lighten the load - so we can finally get underway!  

I like what my pastor says: "Religion is us working our way TO God; relationship is God working his way TO us."  If we are to make any positive movement, we have to let go of the things we have held so tightly to and stretch for the hand just in front of us. It isn't the lack of movement on our part which gets us bogged down - it is the lack of movement in the right direction!  Just sayin!