How do you make sure you are headed where you want to go?
As I sit here trying to remember how to collect my thoughts into something other people will understand, I am thinking about changes in life that go unnoticed for a long period of time. Life changes on us all, and at least for me, a lot of that change isn't noticed until a long time after it happened. Of course, not all change is sudden and often one cannot clearly define the moment a change happened. But once noticed, the change is very noticeable. I'll give you some examples.
I used to travel a lot. I was a wanderer and didn't have much to tie me down. Marriage was a big turning point in my travels but it wan't just that. Even after I got married, I was still a bit of a wanderer. Now... the wandering is very minimal.
Music used to get to me... it used to be more powerful. There were times music would rock my soul and make me feel very strong feelings. Very occasionally I will still find a song (new or old to me) that really moves me but it is exceedingly less frequent.
I used to read more. I've been through a lot of paper books. E-reading never really did it for me though the E-paper Kindle was really cool. Now finishing a paper book is difficult. I listen to a lot of books but it's not the same as sitting down and focusing on the pages in front of you.
Along with reading, I used to write more. I had personal journals, I had a blog I wrote a lot on, I would take notes on sermons, I would write letters to people and put them in the mail, I would write a lot of emails to people just to communicate and share ideas. Now I don't write much at all. This writing right now is a bit of a chore since I'm not well practiced but the exercise is refreshing.
So, looking back at these changes in my life, and many more, I wonder if I'm staill aiming at something specific or if I'm just being driven by my circumstances. I would not willingly give up travel, I wouldn't willingly give up meaningful reading, I would not stop writing on purpose, but these things happened anyway. How does a person stay on track with what plans they have and life with purpose?
What is the meat of this questioning? This isn't just a ramble without a goal. I had a goal when I was younger to intentionally serve in Christian missions. When we got married, Kelli and I set a goal to serve in missions within four years of being married. We had even called some organizations and talked seriously with a few people about how we could serve with them, yet... we still have not. My prayer life isn't what it should be. My studying of God's word isn't what it should be. Keeping on track is hard and drifting away from a goal (specifically a worthy goal) is inevitable if focus isn't maintained.
I used to farm in my 20s. I drove a lot of tractors. In order to drive a straight line, I had to look forward, focus on something in the distance, and maintain a direct path to that far point. But... even when I thought I did great, I would look behind me and see squiggles or arcs in my path showing that I didn't drive as straight as I thought. And even worse, if I looked behind me for too long, trying to figure out where I went wrong, I'd go way off course and it would get worse. I was never great at driving perfectly straight and I feel like plenty of others weren't great at it either which is why GPS controlled farming became a desirable piece of technology.
Just like struggling to drive a straight line in farming, it is a struggle to hold on to meaningful goals in life. New Year's resolutions, anyone? It is important to look behind and see where we've been, evaluate where we actually wanted to be, then look forward again and focus on where you want to go. You may not travel in a perfectly straight line, but maybe with enough reflection, focus, and external direction, you will get where you planned to be.
There are a lot of distractions that have kept me from reaching my goal at this point in life including debt payoff, an appetite for technology, married life, demanding work, and, casting shade over all of that, selfishness. In order to get to where I want to go, I need to reflect, make an adjustment to where I am aiming, and focus on that goal.
God, remind me of your calling for my life. Remind me of the beautiful gospel I have learned of and how so many others are still craving it. Remind me of my wife and the responsibility you have given me over her spiritual and emotional health. Thank you for the opportunities to reflect. Thank you for your persistence in calling me to something bigger than myself. You are worthy of all I have.
1 From Charli -
Sometimes God needs us in the desert to hear him. It is always funny when He makes a giant course correction. I feel like I am at drift alot. But I have found if I sit back and just trust God, He will handle it. I just can't stress or panic when He is asleep in the boat.