Successfully Navigate the Changing Seasons of Life

Successfully Navigate the Changing Seasons of Life

Our lives and work ebb and flow. We must learn how to successfully navigate transition points and ever-changing seasons ahead. Like experienced sailors, it is possible to develop a sense of seen and unseen realms beyond and beneath us.

Merriam-Webster defines navigation as “the science of getting ships, aircraft, or spacecraft from place to place especially the method of determining position, course, and distance traveled.

Do you know your present position? Have you set a solid course — both a destination and process to arrive safely? How far along are you? How much farther do you have to go?

For the last week, God has been asking me these same questions. I believe these questions, and more important the answers, are relevant to all of us. The Christian church in general, and Christians in particular, are facing the fiercest storms yet known.

More than ever before, we must know our position, our course, and the distance traveled to reach our destination.

Wilderness

The Israelites traveled for forty years through the harsh desert. They learned to successfully navigate their unknown territory by following the Lord’s constant lead.

“The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.”
Exodus 13:21

When the cloud moved, they moved. When the cloud stayed, they stayed. Whether that was after a day or a year. God made His direction and timing for their lives obvious.

We don’t have a cloud and fire to lead the way, but we don’t need to blindly grope, fumbling through the maze of life, rushing when God calls us to wait. He invites us to stay on course. Do we seek some kind of supernatural sign or “handwriting on the wall” (Daniel 5:5) before we follow?

God does speak. He will make His ways and direction know.

Holy Spirit

As New Testament believers, God leads us not with a visible cloud or pillar of fire, but better yet, He has given us the indwelling Holy Spirit.

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak, and He will disclose to you what is to come.”
John 16:13

What comforting words, “He will guide, and He will speak. He even promises to disclose to us things to come” — approaching circumstances and seasons. We are not blindly groping and fumbling in uncertainty. We are people of clear direction and purpose.

The closer we walk in intimacy with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the more tender and responsive we will become to the nudging of His wise counsel. He will give us, through the Holy Spirit, a strong sense of how to successfully navigate the stormy seas in the culture we sail.

Sensing

As a prisoner, Paul was transported via ship to Rome to stand trial before Caesar’s court. The ship encountered a severe storm, risking the lives of everyone on board.

“On the fourteenth night we were still being driven across the Adriatic Sea, when about midnight the sailors sensed they were approaching land.”
Acts 27:27

I wonder how they sensed approaching land. What gave clues to these seasoned mariners? What subtle shifts put them on alert? Whatever it was, this “sense” moved them into action.

“They took soundings and found that the water was a hundred and twenty feet deep. A short time later they took soundings again and found it was ninety feet deep.”
Acts 27:28

Their hunches were right. Immediately they dropped anchors and threw every non-essential overboard. To successfully navigate the season we find ourselves in, we too may have to slow our pace or lighten our load to keep the main things as the main things.

Take Soundings

For over a week, God has stirred this passage on my heart. “Take soundings!” He says to me. Don’t rely on past experience or feelings, “take soundings.” Past experiences don’t always equate to wisdom. Feelings shift faster than the prairie weather — steady one moment and wild the next.

Sailors would drop a lead weight attached to a measuring line to accurately determine the depth of the seas below. Twice these sailors took soundings to verify their position and direction. They confirmed their suspicion. Land was approaching.

These sailors operated in the natural realm. We live and operate in both the natural and spiritual realms. How much more imperative that we determine our position, establish our course, and know the distance traveled to successfully navigate our times?

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.”
Psalm 143:11

Successfully Navigate

Father, whether we feel the gentleness of Your Presence or are facing the greatest storms of our lives, we turn our faces to You. We welcome Your Spirit to direct us. Reveal our present position clearly. Just as clearly, show us our true destination. The ONLY WAY we will successfully navigate these seasons will be by following Your direction and directives as clearly as the ancient wilderness wanderers. May we follow at the pace of Your grace. Give us wisdom and courage to “take soundings,” acknowledging our current condition and position. Strengthen us to adjust our lives to follow Your lead completely and wholeheartedly. May we face these disturbing times with confidence, not in our own wisdom or expertise, but relying totally upon You. We welcome the Spirit of Truth to invade every aspect of our lives, and to guide us to The Truth, Jesus Christ. May our lives become lighthouses of protection for those around us. Thank You for Your absolute faithfulness toward us.

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Making Adjustments to Stay on Course

Making Adjustments to Stay on Course

The constant changes and transitions of life require the adjustment and tweaking of priorities and schedules to stay on course. During the last two weeks, I’ve been reminded in various ways about the importance of maintaining godly priorities. Misalignment, especially in the area of work, has been causing me to veer off course.

My daughter-in-law mentioned that during a flight the plane’s internal systems continually make adjustments to keep the plane on course. Wreckages throughout history give us ample evidence of the dangers of veering even slightly off track.

Samson blindly believed he was on course to walk out his destiny.

“Then she called, ‘Samson, the Philistines are upon your!’ He awoke from his sleep and thought, ‘I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.’ But he did not know that the LORD had left him.”
Judges 16:20

Too late, he realized his error. His spiritual blindness led to physical blindness when his enemies gouged out his eyes and turned him into a human mule to grind their grain.

Following our own life track might appear to work for a while. But when we take God’s Word and His call on our lives casually, be aware. We are heading for a crash.

Mount Erebus Tragedy

Though the crash of TE901 occurred almost fifty years ago, it remains New Zealand’s worst peacetime disaster. The air cruise over the Antarctic turned fatal because the navigation system was off by two degrees. Yes! Two degrees! In the scheme of life, we may easily dismiss two degrees as inconsequential. But if we don’t remain “on target,” we, too, may be heading for disaster.

Each person on board trusted the pilot to take them on the scenic flight to McMurdo Sound and back. The pilot trusted the navigation system to guide him as he made two familiar loops, descending through the clouds to about 2,000 feet to give his passengers a better view. He saw the ice and snow through the cockpit window, but only seconds before impact did he realize it was the side of Mount Erebus.

No one was more blinded by pure zeal for God than Saul of Tarsus. Trained as a Pharisee of Pharisees, he expended immeasurable time and energy to eradicate the radical Christian sect that contradicted his understanding of God’s laws and ways. He headed straight for a crash.

“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked . . . My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.”
Acts 22:6-11

Zeal counts for nothing when you are off course!

Blinding Light

Even moments before impact, tourists walked around, drank their chosen beverages, and took pictures inside the cabin and outside the window. Until . . .

Air NZ flight TE901 before it crashed into Mt Erebus. Warning: content may be upsetting.

Every one of us walks around doing life as usual. None of us know the moment of impact — that millisecond between this life and the next. It is a sobering reality waiting us all.

Thanks to previous prompting by the Holy Spirit, encouragement from my pastor, and an extra nudge from my daughter-in-law, I’ve been making adjustments to stay on course to reach the destination God desires for me. Honestly, I’ve been further off than a few degrees.

Usually, it’s the demanding pressures of work which lure me off track. For others, it might be positions of power or the praise of people. Even one of Jesus’ disciples became confused.

“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'”
Matthew 16:23

Jesus warns Peter and us, that whenever human concerns outweigh our concern for God, we have switched allegiance, joining enemy ranks. There is no such thing as neutral ground.

Jesus went on to explain that discipleship costs. Maintaining healthy boundaries around godly priorities will always cost.

Stay on Course

Forfeiting God’s best for a pat on the back or a few more dollars in the bank amounts to nothing in the end.

With Samson, Saul, and Peter, God gracious confronted them, redirecting their course. Their lives impacted multitudes of people. What we do today influences and affects generations as well. May we choose wisely.

The carnage from TE901 that still liters the side of Mount Erebus compares little to the painful aftermath of the crash. After many years and multiple investigations, the blame first placed upon the pilot shifted to the airlines. God won’t need further explanation or investigation. He already knows both the obvious and hidden reasons for our losing sight of what is most important. Excuses and self-justification will disintegrate and fall like ashes before Him.

To stay on course means to continue until something is finished or until we achieve something we planned to do. It means to not vary from a predetermined plan. God has a predetermined plan for every life, in which, as Brother Andrew said,

“The joy gets bigger and life gets better.”

We all plan to finish our life’s journey well. We all plan to please our Heavenly Father and hear Him say,

“. . . ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!'”
Matthew 25:23

Take Action

The deceptive blindness of this world too often pulls us from eternal perspectives. The counsel of others will forewarn us when we are shifting off track, whether by two degrees or more. Here are other steps to help us stay on course:

  • Listen to Holy Spirit.
    • Push the “Pause” button on busyness and rest.
    • Ask God to show us when and how we are getting off track.
    • Ask ourselves if we have set a godly destination?
  • Listen to wise counsel.
    • What are those who love us saying? (e.g. spouses, family, pastors, counselors)
  • Soul search.
    • What unmet need am I trying to satisfy through things other than God?
    • Why is it easier for me to trust in my own ability and efforts rather than in God?
    • Why am I willing to sacrifice the most important things for temporary satisfaction?

Ouch! Though difficult, the answers may save our lives and the lives of those around us before we crash against the mountain of our own doing.

When not corrected, small things always become big things.

God may not provide a blinding light to stop us in our deviant tracks. Failure to realign ourselves may cost us our physical and emotionally health, our closest relationships, and, more importantly, ministry effectiveness.

A minor course adjustment and a little rise in altitude would have been enough to save everyone aboard TE901. In the same way, a few simple personal course adjustments and a small rise in our spiritual altitude may be the preventative measures we need to avoid disastrous consequences.

Let’s heed the warnings and move toward a life where “the joy gets bigger and life gets better.” Blessings, my friends.

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Want More?

You might appreciate this message about setting priorities.

Godly Priorities | Pastor Rob Reimer | September 25, 2022