Once on an airplane flight from Chicago to Newark, I was busily working when suddenly the pilot put on the brakes. We were not 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 have seen that house before, that field before, and those trees before." I saw them again, and again, and another time. Yes, we were in that time warp that is dreaded by every frequent flier - the holding pattern. Now, we weren't standing still; we were using up time and fuel. We were in constant motion, but we weren't making any progress.
In Philippians 3 of the Bible, 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 have been the Apostle Paul. He was living one of the greatest Christian lives in history. You can tell from this passage that he is refusing to stay in spiritual neutral. He certainly wouldn't go in reverse and live on his spiritual memories 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 he probably wouldn't have liked a holding pattern. Maybe you are in a holding pattern spiritually. You started on your Christian journey and have made some progress, but somewhere along the way you slowed down. Now you're circling ground you've covered before. You are using up too much fuel and time. You're going to the meetings, you're giving, you're serving, and you're singing, but it is meaningless motion - a holding pattern.
Churches get in holding patterns too. They keep the calendar packed - time for the banquet, for activities, and for committees - 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 have ever tasted before. They want a more intimate relationship with Jesus than they have experienced yet. They desire a greater effectiveness in praying than they have had before. They seek to make more of a difference than ever.
Does that sound like you? Is that the group you are 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 and busyness is not power. I want all You have."
Find some others who feel the same way, and pursue the Lord together. Make it a discipline to find new ground in God's Word to give Him daily. Become restless to get on toward the goal and finally start moving again in the right direction. Aren't you tired of being in a spiritual holding pattern?