At the beginning of 2015 the Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Randy Carlyle. In an interview, then General Manager Dave Nonis sited that one of the reasons it happened was because the team was “trending in the wrong direction”. He was implying that they were not moving as a group towards their desired outcome. The amusing thing was that after that decision the team went into a nose dive of momentous force. If the Leafs were “trending in the wrong direction” they were now headed there with reckless abandon. Most feel the Maple Leafs have been doing this since 1967. Leafs President Brendan Shanahan in interviews has talked about changing the culture of the hockey club and building a foundation for the future. Time will tell whether the decisions being made really accomplished what they were intending to do. You are probably wondering why I am talking about the Leafs, particularly those who cheer for another hockey team or even worse the Montreal Canadians. What do the Leafs have to do with spirituality? Let me explain. Since that announcement I have been gripped with that phrase; “Trending in the right direction”. I find it pops in my head quite frequently. I want my life and our church to be “trending in the right direction”. The spiritual life is about movement. Author and Educator, Homer Kent, summed it up this way, “Spiritual Progress is ever the imperative Christians must follow.” God never wants us to become stationary in our faith.
Spiritual Progress is ever the imperative Christians must follow.” Homer Kent
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers and sisters, 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, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
He talks about pressing on, straining towards what is ahead and not letting the past hold him back from purposeful faith foward momentum. That is “trending in the right direction.”
I don't remeber much of what I learned in Physics in high school but for some reason the law of inertia, also known as Newton's first law of motion, has always stuck with me or . It states, “An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.” To sumarize if something isn't moving it will stay that way unless something moves it. Things that are moving have a tendency to keep moving, unless something stops it.” To apply this spiritually if you aren't moving…you probably aren't going to move, unless you are moved. Many of us are stuck where we are and as Will Rogers states. “Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.”
Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there. Will Rogers
Two factors need to come together and in that joining something incredible can happen. Those two factors are God's Spirit and our wills.
His Holy Spirit
The only force that can push us forward and give us the momentum we need is the spirit of God. Zechariah 4:6 states that when He moves it is going to be ‘Not by our might nor by our power, but by my (God's) Spirit,’ (italics mine). Jerry Sittser in his book The Adventure compares the spiritual journey to sailing. He says:
“Both wind and sail are necessary to get the boat to the other side, but the wind is primary; it is the power. To believe that the hoisting of the sail merited or caused the blowing of the wind is ludicrous. Likewise, it would be foolish to think that if a person blew into the sail he could propel the boat to the other side.” 1
Just as sailor can not make the wind blow or create enough wind to sail, we cannot in ourselves, make His Spirit move. The wind or motivation of the Spirit is essential to any faith momentum. But it must be coupled with the surrendering of my will and my agenda to God's in my life.
Sittser continues and states that our will, detemination and discipline are a necessity as well. We must hoist our sails. He continues the sailing illustration:
“Equally absurd, however, would be the opposite error to refuse to put up the sail because, after all, nothing but the wind could drive the boat to the shore anyway. Discipline is necessary, but God's grace, the wind of the Spirit, is primary. (italics mine)2
Each day we need to hoist the sails of surrendering our will and catch the wind of the Spirit. Each day we should begin with a prayer like this.
Heavenly Father, thank you for this new day and that your merices are new every morning. Thank you that You give me grace for this day. Holy Spirit, I give you my day. I recognize that to do your will, it will not be because of my strength or my power, it will only be because of You: your Spirit working in me. I surrender my will, to Yours. By faith I hoist my sails and order to catch the wind of Your Spirit blowing. Guide me, lead me, teach me and use me this day. Amen
I'm not sure if the Toronto Maple Leafs are trending in the right direction, but you can be spiritually if you surrender your will and move with the wind of His Holy Spirit.
1 Jerry Sittser, “The Adventure”, (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois, 1985), 205