List or no list?

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. So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision—you’ll see it yet! Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it. (Philippians 3:12-16)

Dewey reminds us, "Arriving at one goal is the starting point to another." A life lived without goals, a target in mind, is kind of like being set adrift on the open sea - hoping for the best, but totally unprepared for the worst! When I have large projects in mind, I usually write out a 'pick list' of sorts - telling me the supplies I will need to gather, large purchases I will need to make, and certain steps that I must take to ensure the project will go well. When I have something small in mind, like washing the dishes, I don't need a list - I just need to do it! Some of our actions need a bit of structure, like the list, while others are just going to happen because they are part of our habitual practices. We need both - some things being bigger and harder to undertake than others.

Have you ever just headed somewhere, but not been too sure where you were going? On occasion, my BFF and I like a day out, just going from hither and yon, in search of treasures. We may not have a specific 'place' in mind, but we 'set out', allowing the yard sale signs to guide us. We could not live all of our lives that way, though. We'd be in chaos if we did. We need some structure and 'pre-planning' to our lives. Focus is what helps us stay on track with our goals. Development of focus is something we must allow in our lives, but we must be cautious about 'what' or 'who' does that development within us. If it is the Holy Spirit, illuminating scripture, prompting us to take certain actions, then we are likely to be aiming at the correct target. If it is the influence of the world, through things we see and hear, then the target may be kind of a wishy-washy one.

The 'right track' is something we need the influence of the Word of God and the indwelling Holy Spirit to help us with. There are lots and lots of tracks we can choose - knowing which one is right for us to take today is not always clear. I have lots of projects in mind - knowing which one will yield the right outcome in the right season of my life is harder. Clear paths are not just 'found' - they are learned because there is a consistency in traveling them. God may ask us to take the same path over and over again until it becomes 'habitually traveled', but there will be times he will set a target out before us that seems a little 'less traveled'. That is where we need the clarity of his still small voice, confirmation of his direction through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and the assurance of the Word of God to guide us. Just sayin!

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