Bumping the Trajectory: Avoiding Spiritual PlateausSeptember 2, 2013
Guardrail Specifications: Setting Up Boundaries for OurselvesSeptember 2, 2013
One thing I know about us humans, we drift and we plateau. We drift in our relationships, in our careers, in our exercise (It’s been 3 weeks/months/years since I …?), we drift in our weight (10 pounds! Where did that come from??), we drift in our Bible reading, in our staying in touch with others, and in how many other ways?
And in all these areas we will plateau, as well. We stop growing. We coast.
You drift. I drift. But don’t miss this: no one drifts towards the A+ life.
And no matter our self-discipline and no matter our drive, we will plateau. We will flatten out, get bored, or just lose our mojo.
So we must be intentional about periodic course corrections.
We are all on a journey. As you read this you are hurtling at light speed along your future. The show-stopping question is, “Is where you’re going where you want to be when you get there?”1
In my line of work I constantly see the results of ignoring this question: relationship debris and emotional shrapnel scattered all over. Often I’m tempted to say, “Did you not see that coming?” – but then I would first have to turn the mirror back to myself.
Regret is the destination. Regret can be haunting, even crippling. Jesus does not want us dealing with regret, so he concludes many of his teaching lessons with a caution: “And you’re going to be shocked you missed it so badly.”
God succinctly addresses this drifting tendency: “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.”2
Straightforward and to the point: “We must pay more careful attention …” or else …. we drift.
The remedy is to continue to take stock of our direction, and make periodic course corrections. Of course you’ve already tried to do this many times … in your own power … with the results being less than dazzling. Maybe you made some progress, only to flatten out again, and plateau.
You may have even tried something radical like the ‘sinner’s prayer’ for a major course correction. But as we saw in Acts 193, the Holy Spirit didn’t really get inside you.
Jesus had something to say about our need for these course corrections. He knows only too well about our drifting and plateauing, and he knows only too well our destination, without a course correction. Jesus warned we are all drifting along the highway to destruction, and that we must find a change of course.
He alerts us with these words, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”4
Only a few?
For some of you, the broad road is this noisy and busy culture you’ve bought into. That’s most of you. For many of you, this broad road is right smack through your church, where the activity of humans is far more prevalent than the activity of the Holy Spirit.
For others it’s bad choices and bad behavior. Either way, the broad road is jammed bumper to bumper with the drifting and distracted, and “many enter through it.”
So Jesus sets out a course correction for us: the narrow gate.
The culture, and Satan, are doing their best to sweep you swiftly past this gate. So Jesus cautions that we must find it. This means we must look for it, diligently. We will not drift through the narrow gate.
But how to find it? We must all first see our need for a major course correction. Do you think you’re, “Just fine as is; not perfect mind you, but doing okay?” Do you think you just need a little polishing up?
That won’t get it.
When Jesus starts his Beatitudes with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,”5 he is saying we all must see our spiritual poverty apart from Jesus, before we feel the acute need to look for the narrow gate.
We must, you and I, see that we are bankrupt and speeding toward destruction without Jesus as our Savior. And we must see that even after he is our Savior, we will frequently drift back to the broad road that leads back to the C- life, without him as our Lord, guiding and leading us.
Next week I want us to look at life beyond the first narrow gate (the Salvation gate), and how we can continue to bump the trajectory upwards towards the A+ Life. But for now, please be sure you are looking for and find that first gate, the one that will lead you off the busy, noisy, drifting and distracting road to … to hell.
“Only a few will find it.”