Friday, August 13, 2004
I was on an airplane flight from Chicago to Newark, and I was busy working, until suddenly, the pilot put on the brakes. We weren't really near Newark yet, so I tried to figure out what was going on. It looked as if the plane was beginning to circle, and our wing was dipped down a little bit. Pretty soon, I said, "You know what? I believe I've seen that house before. I think I've seen that field before. I've seen those trees before." I got to see them again, and again, and another time. We were in that time warp that is dreaded by every frequent flier: the holding pattern. We weren't standing still (which was a good thing), we were using up time, we were using up fuel, we were in constant motion. We weren't going anywhere. We weren't making any progress.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about being "Stuck in a Holding Pattern."
Our word for today from the Word of God comes from Philippians 3, beginning at verse 12. Paul says, "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind, and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."
If anyone could have been satisfied with where he was spiritually, it would be the great apostle Paul. He was living one of the most outstanding Christian lives in history. You can tell from his passage, though, that he's refusing to stay in spiritual neutral. He's certainly not going to go in reverse and live on his spiritual memories, by going through a scrapbook, you know, saying, "Remember the wonderful times the Lord and I had together?" No, Paul is in high gear. He says, "I am pressing on. I haven't got it all yet. I want the rest of Jesus."
Paul never flew, but I don't think he would have liked a holding pattern. Maybe that's what you're in right now spiritually. You started on your journey in Jesus and you've made some progress, but somewhere along the way you slowed down, you put on the brakes, and you're circling ground that you've covered before. You're not standing still, you're just circling in a holding pattern. You are using up fuel and time in a cycle of sameness. You're going to the meetings, you're giving, you're serving, you're singing, but it's meaningless motion - a holding pattern. Churches get in holding patterns, too. They keep the calendar packed: time for the banquet, time for this activity, time for the board, time for the committee, but are they taking any new ground for the Lord?
Spiritually healthy people are restless people. They are aggressively pursuing more of God's power in their lives than they've ever tasted before. They want a more intimate relationship with Jesus than they've experienced yet. They desire a greater effectiveness in praying than they've ever had before. They seek to make more of a difference than they've ever made. Is that you? Is that the group you're in? Does that describe your church? Let it begin with you breaking out of your holding pattern and getting moving again. It begins when you say, "Lord, I'm tired of this plateau. Activity is not obedience. I know that. Business is not power. I want all You have." Find some others who feel the same way, and pursue the Lord together in a prayer meeting. Make it a discipline to find new ground in God's Word every day - new ground that you can give to Him.
Circling the same ground in that airplane, I was restless to get on toward the goal. It was a great feeling when we finally started moving again in the right direction. Aren't you tired of being in a spiritual holding pattern?