For the past few years, our women’s ministry has challenged us to pick a word for the year. I’ve had words like “joy”, “restore”, “rest”—easy words—yet words I felt the Lord was leading me to. This year I was struggling to find a word. The word “stronger” kept coming to mind, but I hadn’t settled on a word yet when I went to our women’s retreat the first weekend in February. Every message I heard there said “move forward”. “Hmmm,” I thought, “stronger was a good choice. Actually, move forward is two words.” What was I to do? I decided I should have both “stronger” and “move forward”. How would that look? I started do some exercises to become physically stronger and worked on the spiritual side of strength training with more scripture reading and prayer time. I was working on stronger and thinking about how to move forward when suddenly we were hit with this pandemic! When your word of the year is move forward and you’re told to stay home, you have a dilemma.
Strangely, I keep hearing move forward. Our pastor has used those words in recent sermons. I’ve heard it in numerous podcasts. Today as I was listening to Max Lucado’s daily message, he was discussing that our prayers are being answered even though that may not appear to be the case and we are to move forward. I’ve even told others who are asking how to find God’s will in their lives to move forward.
Sometimes we are confused about what God would have us to do. We think we need to know His full plan for our lives before He chooses to reveal it to us. In reality, He usually doesn’t do that. Most of the time, He reveals to us one step at a time. That’s where move forward comes into play. Each day we must seek God’s leadership for the day. If we’re planning for something in the future, we can ask Him to direct our plans. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” I love the strength of this verse. If we commit our work to the Lord, we can move forward without fear knowing that he will direct our plans to suit His divine purposes. We don’t have to know His plan.
I’ve shared before about our granddaughter, Lily, when she was four years old and we took her to see Disney on Ice. We had made elaborate plans for our time with her, but she didn’t know it. She only knew that she was going with Cookie (my grandma name) and Grandpa for a day. She moved forward with us and went wherever we took her. She got a new dress, a toy nativity set from Lifeway, and a great ice show complete with popcorn and other treats. She got to enjoy all these things because she moved forward. If she hadn’t trusted us, she (and we) wouldn’t have been able to have this experience. We had spent four years getting to know each other, spending time together, and growing a stronger relationship. Now we got to move it forward by taking her without her parents for a fun time.
The pandemic has become a challenge to me to see how resourceful we can be when life is turned upside down. I’ve continued to grow stronger and to move forward despite the precautions and guidelines we are following. Indeed, it has given us more time to pursue these goals. I’ve done things I hadn’t done in years. I’ve done some sewing, not just mending! We were home for Easter, which is rare for many of us who live in Augusta. We put up a cross in our yard. We had a bear hunt by putting teddy bears in the windows. We’ve learned to walk with a friend at a distance. There are so many good things that are coming from this, because “God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.” Romans 8:28. We may not know how or why this has happened but we can rely on this truth.
I pray that God would strengthen you and help you to move forward through this trying time. May we all trust Him and be stronger in the days ahead.