Marching Backwards

by Andy Wood on August 28, 2015

in Five LV Laws, Following Your Passion, Leadership, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Eternity, Turning Points

The University of Wisconsin Marching Band appears in the 122nd Rose Parade, themed "Building Dreams, Friendships," in Pasadena January 1, 2011.

I grew up in the true home of Mardi Gras. And being in the high school band back in the day, we marched in our share of Mardi Gras parades. It was a nice way to raise money for the band, contribute to local community life, and to create some space between the floats so they didn’t run into each other. Plus, we helped contribute to festive atmosphere of Carnival season.

I had a pretty interesting role in all this, because I was the Drum Major – the guy in the fuzzy hat that directs the band on the street as they march.

Which means I spent a lot of my time marching backwards through the streets of Mobile.

There are two things you learn by marching backwards on a five-mile parade route. First, it’s always better to be at the front of the parade than the back. Why?

Horses. Lots and lots of cancer-free-and-proud-of-it horses, who exist on a high-fiber diet.

Need I say more?

Second, when you’re marching backwards in the parade, it may be your job to direct the band – but it isn’t your job to determine the parade route. Your job is simply to follow the direction of the one in front of you. If the float ahead of us was driven by a drunk who decided to turn left on Dauphin Street instead of right, we’d have followed right along. Hey, a parade is a parade.

It’s an interesting perspective…

Moving forward but looking back and seeing how far you have come, or where your route has taken you.

Looking side to side and seeing the contribution you may be making to the rhythm, reason and rhyme of people’s lives.

Being part of a team that depends on everybody to do his or her part.

Recognizing that the role you play was scripted by someone else, and being willing to contribute to something larger than yourself.

I don’t march in Mardi Gras parades anymore. But I’m still part of a team that moves forward and contributes to the rhythm, reason and rhyme of people’s lives. I still recognize that while I lead in some sense of the word, I don’t script the route. Had I been in charge of route management, my life would look entirely different – and not in a good way. Even the last 10 months has been something of an odyssey I never would have imagined, much less planned.

The parade I march in today is a victory parade. It’s not my victory – I’m just a bit player in the procession. But it’s a breathtaking honor to be graciously included in it all.

As a follower of the ultimate Route Designer, I have one job – keep marching. Keep playing my part. Keep following the direction the parade takes me, whether I can predict (or approve of) the twists and turns of the route or not. The Route Designer – the Grand Marshal, if you will – knows exactly where to lead me and who needs to join in the victory celebration.

…Thank God! In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through us, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance (2 Corinthians 2:14, MSG).

Where has God led you lately in His victory parade?

How has He routed, or re-routed your life to show off His glory?

Where has He kept you moving when you thought you were useless and had nothing of value left to offer?

How has he left you shaking your head, marveling at a route only He could have mapped out for your life?

Even today, when it may seem as if you’re looking forward but marching backwards, how is He showing the world the exquisite fragrance of what it’s like to know Christ… through you?

Don’t you think this might be a good time to say “Thank you?”

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan August 28, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Great Word! Sure appreciate Dr. Andy Wood!!!

Deb Cook August 28, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Dr. Wood what a wonderful perspective you bring. I have been following your writing since my class with you at Regent University. I thank God that he has given me a part in His victory parade. Thank you! Thank you!!

Martha Orlando August 30, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Andy, I cannot begin to tell you how much trepidation I felt these past weeks knowing I’d have to my my mother’s caregiver when she was released from the hospital after femur surgery and rehab. As you can imagine, I did lots of praying! And you know what? God is giving me more energy and patience than I ever thought it possible to have! I’m enjoying the march He’s leading me on!
Thanks for the inspiration, my friend!

Danny Cancino August 31, 2015 at 10:30 am

Great angle on perspective. The “left of Dauphin…a parade is a parade” helped me gain additional understanding of where my parade is today. I may not always understand or agree with the immediate direction taken by those in the lead, however; in retrospect, the Grand Marshal is ultimately in control and He never takes an “unplanned” turn. In the grand scheme of things, the route belongs to God and keeping step with Him brings joy to my life.
Although I was not in a marching band, growing up in Texas I heard them every Friday night in the background, during our football games. More specifically, I remember the encouragement I felt as I listened to them playing our “fight song”. I felt the energy of the drums, combined with all the brass, and knew we were not in the fight alone.
I am encouraged today because I feel like am in that second half of life and I have found much joy in the saving grace of my personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Your story of the marching band encourages me and reminds me we are in a battle on the gridiron of life. I follow the Master, not because He tells me every turn along the the route in advance, but because He has assured me of the Eternal destination. I get to share the colorful and musical message of the Master’s parade by living my life according to His will so that others will also see and hear that they are not alone. Thank you for this mental journey. Blessings,
Danny

C Shipley October 30, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Thank you, a great perspective on our lives.

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