Are You Missing Your Next Step?

1sam-16v7The Lord said to Samuel, “How long are you going to mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and go. I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem because I have selected a king from his sons.”

Samuel asked, “How can I go? Saul will hear about it and kill me!” (1 Samuel 16:1-2)

There is always a “next step” of obedience. God wants us to move onward. We carry much of the past with us, because it prepares us, it has consequences, and it requires us to continue to wrestle and deal with things. Yet we still move on in  obedience. God invites and instructs us into our next step.

And we will often be able to find something that could hold us back, some reason we should stay where we are just a little longer: some excuse, diversion, or concern.

We may like the familiar, even if we aren’t completely content there, because it’s comfortable, even in it’s familiar pain and struggles. The next step isn’t quite as certain. It could be better; it could be worse. We just don’t know.

But will we only choose based on our own perspective of better or worse? If so, we’ll miss out on some uncomfortable, trying experiences and relationships that help us grow. We’ll stay put instead of taking some amazing journeys, even as they are wrought with complications and obstacles.

Quit Reminding Me

“Be careful. Don’t hit your head.”

My dad repeated the warning at least a half dozen times. He was still recovering for surgery, so he directed, while I got some things ready for winter. One of the tasks was winterizing the dog pens. With each run, I reached in to the get a dog, placed him or her in a temporary dog box, got the pen ready for winter, then put the dog back in the pen. But I wasn’t used to the smaller gates into the pens. Unlike our dog’s pen, I couldn’t just lean in unless I wanted to bash my head.

Which I did the very last time I was putting away a dog. In fact, I bashed it about the time I thought, “I’m really glad my dad cares enough to keep reminding me, but does he think I’m an idiot who can’t remember a warning?”

Well, yes. Apparently, I am.

I reeled back as he asked if I was okay. “I don’t know,” I said. “Am I bleeding?”

I wasn’t, and we both laughed, but I had a knot on my forehead for several days and had small scabs from the imprint the fencing left behind.

We might get irritated when someone repeatedly reminds us of something, whether it’s something we should do or something we shouldn’t. But many times, we actually need those repeated reminders. We lose focus and easily forget.

Are you surrounding yourself with people who hold you to God’s standard, who know it well enough to hold you accountable? Are you consistently filling yourself with reminders by becoming increasingly familiar with God’s Word, not just what you remember, assume, or are told?

There’s always learning to receive and respond to and reminders about that learning.

Remember to get to it today.

Good Qs. Solid As.

If you’re standing still, you can’t move on. The Southwest Airlines poster caught my eye as I strolled through the airport.

We stand still for several reasons. We feel paralyzed, unable to move by…perhaps fear or the unknown. We stand still because we’re indifferent. We’re not committed to standing up and putting one foot of the other. We stand still because we’re busy. It sounds odd, but even though we’re physically moving, we’re drifting in the busyness of life. We basically do the same thing every day. Time passes. We’re shocked to when we realize how many months or years (and opportunities) have passed. We circle in one area and become so accustomed to our surroundings that we don’t realize much outside of our small circle.

Familiarity and consistency isn’t bad. That small circle might be right where you’re supposed to be. Are you paying attention or going through the motions? Be intentional in the choices you’re making. If you’re busy, sit down. Breathe. Take a look around. Ask yourself, “Am I where I’m supposed to be?” If you’re already sitting, stand up. Take a step. Any step. Get a new perspective.  Ask yourself, “Am I where I’m supposed to be?”

It’s not easy to know for sure, but one way you’re certain not to know is not to ask.

Seek. Discern. Choose. Listen. Correct. Learn. Grow.

It’s a process.  Ask good questions. Seek solid answers.

A friend was recently lamenting about a relationship. It wasn’t my role to tell her what to do or even what I thought was best for her. Either choice could be painful. Either could help her grow. It wasn’t clear-cut. My role was to help her ask good questions so she could get unstuck. “What’s the reason you’d choose ______________? Are you trying to fix the past or move into the future? How strongly are you being influenced by others – positively or negatively? How will you deal with those same people’s responses if you go against their advice?”

Good questions. Solid answers.

Not making a decision is a decision. But without good questions, we’ll often struggle to make decisions in roundabout ways. We rationalize what we most want. We get confused.  We listen to too many people, often with conflicting advice. Or we ask people we know will support what we want to hear. We end up standing still – either because we’re too paralyzed to take the next step or we’re running so quickly in the direction we most want.

Solid answers take a different kind of movement. We need to pause long enough to seek. Stay attentive enough to discern. Have courage to choose. Be persistent enough to listen. Be humble enough to correct. Accept the challenge to learn. And celebrate the moments and process – big and small – of growth.

If you’re standing still, you can’t move on. Are you supposed to be standing still? Is it time to move on? Seek. Discern. Choose. Listen. Correct. Learn. Grow.

Good questions. Solid answers.

God’s ready for both. And when you seek God and discern, choose, listen, correct and learn within your relationship with God, you’ll grow. You’ll be moving on all the time – even when standing still in the quiet moments God will guide you into.

We can see now that you know all things. You can answer a person’s question even before it is asked. This makes us believe you came from God. John 16:30