Ship TurningQuick question:  If you’re going 30 miles per hour and wanted to make a 180-degree turn, how fast could you do it and how much ground would you lose heading the other way?

Quick answer: It all depends on the vehicle.

And that matters more than you may realize.

If you’re on a motorcycle doing 30, a good rider can execute a 180 pretty quickly and only lose a few feet before he darts back in the opposite direction.

On the other hand, if you’re at the con of an aircraft carrier traveling 30 knots per hour, it would take about 72 seconds. And in the process, you’ve lost about half a nautical mile.

Changing direction takes time.  And momentum isn’t always on your side. And because of that your resolve will be tested.

Changing Direction Takes Time

I’ve never seen a hummingbird or bumblebee make a U-turn.  They don’t have to. They simply realign their little propulsion systems and dart off in the new direction.

Oh, if it were that easy.

People can do that if we’re standing still.  Problem is, we’re hardly ever standing still.

As Andy Stanley reminds us in The Principle of the Path, “Direction – not intention – determines our destination.”  But changing your direction – changing paths – takes time.  As Andy’s daddy Charles has taught for years about some life changes, “You didn’t get here overnight, and you’re not going to get out of here overnight.”

I don’t know how you respond to that, but it irritates the hell right back into me.  I want one-minute cures for lifetime problems.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. If I’m walking into the steak house and remember I left my wallet in the car, I can turn on a dime and go back and retrieve it.  But if I’ve been hanging out in the steak house for years and the lab says my arteries are clogged and my cholesterol is too high, one trip to the drug store ain’t gonna cure that.  Ask me how I know.

In the spiritual realm, there is such a thing as instant spirituality. But there is no such thing as instant maturity or character.  One requires a life touch from God. The other requires some lifetime direction, and a walk with God.

Is it worth it?  I think you know the answer to that.

Momentum Isn’t Always On Your Side

John is a sex addict. His compulsive behavior has destroyed any semblance of intimacy or trust in his marriage and family. His steady stream of lies has cost him, not only his most important relationships, but also his character.

But John has reached a breaking point; he’s hit bottom, and will do whatever it takes to be healed, delivered, sober – whatever you choose to call it.

Imagine John’s surprise and disappointment when everybody around him doesn’t experience the same joy of discovering the grace and healing power of God in his life. When everybody else doesn’t see the progress he is making.  Instead, he gets hammered by more mistrust, not less. More confrontations, not fewer.

To borrow a couple of metaphors and make a mess out of them, John’s on a battleship trying to act like a hummingbird and expecting everybody else to track with him.

Ain’t gonna happen, buddy.  For months or years you have created unwanted momentum in your most important relationships, and even though you are changing your direction, the momentum you created is pushing your marriage, friendships, or professional life further away from your desired destination… for a season.

The same thing is true in other “battleship” issues of your life. Like your health.  Professional turnarounds. Financial messes.  Patterns of thinking or feeling.

You didn’t get here overnight.  You’re not going to get out of here overnight. And if I may add, Even if you turn things around, momentum may take you backwards before it propels you forward.

Your Resolve Will Be Tested

Chew on these words for a minute:

“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9, NLT).

Why would somebody give up if they’re doing the right thing?

Because they’re not seeing the results they expect as quickly as they want to see them.

So the alcoholic or other addict goes into treatment with the expectation that getting sober will make his marriage better. Instead, six months later his wife files for divorce.

So Miss Moneyburner has Dave Ramsey surgery and begins a quest to get out of debt and “live like no one else so she can live like no one else.”  All with the expectation of getting free. Instead, the air conditioner breaks down, the boss hands her a pink slip, and the IRS comes calling.

So Pastor Periscope sees the danger on the horizon and begins a healthy, visionary long-range planning process to lead his congregation to re-dream the dream and prepare for the next ten years of fruitful ministry. Instead, four families up and leave, a deacon refers to him as a false prophet, and somebody with a sick sense of humor parks a U-Haul truck in front of his house.

What?  You thought change was easy? It is when you’re a hummingbird, and have a life expectancy of less than a year.

You want something more long-lasting?  Prepare to be tested. And tested. And tested again.  And the biggest tests won’t be coming from fishheaded people, or the universe, or the devil. The biggest challenges to your turnaround come from that voice inside your own head, screaming, “What’s the use?”

 

“At just the right time,” Paul says, you’ll see the harvest.  When, praytell, is that?

Later than you want.  Sooner than you deserve.

Wherever you may need to make a comeback, have the courage to change your direction.

Have the humility to ask for help.

Have the patience to give it some time.

Have the fortitude to withstand negative momentum.

Have the resolve to pass the test.

And when the time is right, the reward will be there.  You will reap what you have sown.  And you’ll be more than joyful that you did.

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