We’ve all heard the saying, “Three steps forward, two steps back”.
It’s the first thing that ran through my mind the other night. It was quickly followed by, “We’re never going to break this cycle.” (Faith filled thought, right?)
It was late one evening and my brother and I had just taken what was for us, three giant steps forward in overcoming an area in our lives where we’ve been defeated for two long. We weren’t struggling with sin, however, for too long we had allowed ourselves to be manipulated, controlled and oppressed.
Just a few weeks earlier, the Holy Spirit put His spotlight on this area and said, “It’s time to overcome and walk in freedom.” When He showed us the steps we needed to take to gain the victory, we jumped right in and started following the path He’d laid out.
It felt great! As we were winding up what seemed like the final step in the process, I felt like I was on cloud 9---ready to burst into a chorus of “We are the Champions” (or some Christian equivalent song).
Then it happened.
Less than 30 minutes after we’d completed our final step in the process and gained our victory, we were presented with an unexpected and potentially life-changing challenge. Like a slap in the face, I came back to earth quickly. That’s when I had the very pessimistic thought, “Three steps forward, 2 steps back.”
However, much to my surprise, almost as quickly, something rose up from deep inside of me (I believe it was the voice of the Holy Spirit) saying, “NO!!! We’re not going back! Three steps forward, no steps back!”
It was like a surge of courage and passion stirred up in my spirit, causing me to lay aside the temptation to wallow back into a pity party. Instead, I felt empowered to put on my fight face and say,
“Are we facing a challenge?" Yes.
Could this be difficult to overcome? Definitely.
Still, there’s no way that this new difficulty is going to cause me to lose the ground we’ve just gained. It’s forward all the way from here.
Why? Because I’ve been back there for way too long. Been there; done that; and it wasn’t good. Even if the only thing I can do is face this new challenge and standing firmly on the ground I’ve just gained, there’s no way I’m going to retreat and go backward. From here on in, it’s all forward---I’m not going back.”
Quickly my mind recalled Joshua and Caleb in the book of Numbers (chapter 13-14 to be exact). I remembered their tenacity, their boldness, their courage, and most of all their refusal to want to return to Egypt even when the 10 other spies and the whole Israelite community saw a trip back to Egypt as the only solution to the overwhelming prospect of the fortified cities and giants in the Promised Land.
When everyone else wanted to overthrow Moses and appoint new leaders to take them back into captivity, Joshua and Caleb stood firm and said (this is the paraphrased version) “Are you crazy? Don’t you remember Egypt? It was awful! We were slaves! Our masters were cruel and abusive and treated us like we weren’t even human. Now you want to go back there? What is wrong with you?”
Okay, what they actually said in Numbers 14:7-9 was: “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
Did they know there were giants in the land? Oh yeah.
Had they seen the fortified cities? Yeppers.
Still, their perspective was different than the other spies because:
#1 They had clear memories of how bad it was in Egypt and they never wanted to return.
#2 They had a clear perspective of God’s capabilities to lead them past the challenges and into the amazing place He had promised His people.
As I started thinking about these great men in the Bible, I realized that each of us needs to follow their example whenever we are faced with the giants in our own lives. The truth is that moving forward is never without it’s challenges.
Whatever “Promised Land” the Holy Spirit is calling you to enter in 2015, will not be without it’s challenges---it’s own giants and fortified cities. If we allow ourselves to focus on them, we will be tempted to give up and retreat. We might even think “It would just be easier to go back to the old way of doing things rather than stand our ground and fight through and gain the victory.”
But these are the lies that keep Christians living in defeat. That is not God’s will for our lives.
Instead, He wants us to resist the temptation to retreat.
Stand firm in the progress we have made.
Trust Him to help us gain the victory in whatever challenges we are facing as we continue to move forward in His purpose and plan for our lives.
Like Joshua and Caleb, we need to be people of determination who say, “We’re not going back---we’re pressing in to all that God has for us.”
Three steps forward---no steps back.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain
(1 Corinthians 15:58)
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
(1 Corinthians 16:13)
Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.