7 ways to assess the negative and positive voices speaking about our future. (Part 1)
Is there any wisdom? — Do their words present both practical and spiritual views that allow you to live relationally with others in this tension of pragmatic and spiritual life?
Can you find hope? — Words that are all doom and gloom with no hope are not helpful.
Is there a foundation of kindness? — A correction can be harsh, but a steady diet of harshness requires love and kindness to make it have any use.
Do you see humility? — Experts should be people who are teachable. If they’re not teachable they’re dangerous.
Are they invested? — Does it cost them anything to share their advise? Do they gain anything by sharing?
Do you know their track record? — Have they given you wisdom or insight that has been good in the past?
Are they solid people? — What is their history with family, friendships or things that you feel are core values?
Four reflections on getting unstuck. (Part 2)
What do I do when I can’t see the way forward? “Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send?” (Isaiah 42:19). This is scary but it a chance to grow your faith. Being blind is not always a bad thing. Faith often is simply taking the hand of a good Father and following one step at a time, while still in the dark.
What do I do when the way forward seems too dangerous? “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). Jesus’ cross is a standard for us. The reference here is to a plague of vipers (or heavenly beings in Numbers 21) where Moses had an image of the serpents made and lifted it up. Jesus was referring to his cross and him breaking the power of death. It is critical to lift our eyes in faith to his cross, because the cross brought the new world order. Our call is to live reflecting the new covenant of God’s commitment to us and his desire to save every human life possible. We do this in the middle of a broken world system. The cross is no guarantee of safety, but it is a promise of life in every circumstance.
What do I do when the way forward is visible but solidly blocked? “And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you” (Joshua 23:14). Sometimes prayer and fasting bring a breakthrough, but it is good to remind ourselves that the true purposes of God are unshakable. If God commands, then there is a way forward. Maybe it is another way we weren’t willing to consider until we were stuck. Could it be a dark way or a dangerous way that God has for us?
Thomas asked, “How can we know the way?” Jesus answered him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:5–6). Sometimes our only way forward is holding onto who Jesus is. All solid ways forward require truth and life; reflecting on Jesus helps us align to this. When Thomas was looking for a way forward, he did not understand the destination was already there in the person of Jesus. Thomas is like most of us. We want a convenient way forward, not a relationship to depend on.
What do I do when the destination looks too far away? “I will say to the north, ‘Give up,’ and to the south, ‘Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth’” (Isaiah 43:6). It doesn’t matter how far the destination is, God knows how to get you to where you need to be in the right time. Remember that our biggest, most amazing call is not this earth but the eternal realm.
Jeremiah says of Israel, “The Lord appeared to him [Israel] from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). God has an everlasting love for you. He will not abandon His good and eternal purpose over your life. There may be sharp corners; there may be surprises, but God will be faithful in His love. Sometimes more time is part of the necessary process to help us mature so that when we arrive at the destination, we are able to bring value to and not destroy the very thing we desire.
I hope these seven ways to assess the many voices we are hearing and the four way to move forward are useful for you in the season we live in.