Maybe it’s an obvious point, but it struck me when I heard it. A good friend once told me that a ship cannot be steered unless it is moving, and I got this image in my head of someone at the helm of a huge ship trying to do a 360 in the harbor to no avail. Without the propulsion of the wind in its sails (or the motor) the rudder is absolutely useless. The same is true of your car (perhaps a more familiar metaphor). If you’re sitting in your driveway, it doesn’t matter how drastically or how frantically you turn the steering wheel, without forward motion nothing will change. The same principle is actually true in life and is very mysterious to me, but I have seen it proven over and over again and I simply can’t deny it.
If you’re like me, you tend to get into a state that I like to call “analysis paralysis.” It is where you stop, look around at all your options from every angle, think about each one, and then start over again. All of this is for good reason, you need to make a decision and you want it to be the right one, one that will bring the most benefit to you in the long run. But this careful calculation has its drawbacks. If you do this long enough, eventually all of your options will start to blend together and seem the same. You will be stuck because you are able to talk yourself into or out of any of your options. That makes decision making even harder!
Here’s the problem: You’re not moving! Stationary objects (and people) are almost impossible to steer. It is incredibly important to move in a direction and see what happens.
I have learned two important lessons through this principle. First, as astute as my skills of reasoning may be, I can fully never predict the future outcome in any situation. My first problem is that I assume that I know what would happen if I chose any one of the options in front of me. This is simply not true! I would have to actually do each one of them before I found out exactly how each would turn out. I can’t avoid choosing one and going for it and seeing where it leads me. If I have to retrace my step, so be it.
The second lesson I have already mentioned. There is this crazy law at play that seems to move things into action as I choose a direction and move forward. My choice and my decision create a mysterious blend of momentum, both within myself and around me, that seems to cause things to fall in place and make that thing possible. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if I didn’t make the decision.
There are many more things I could say about this, including how faith is involved in this principle. Something about stepping out in faith seems to move God to step in and help me. E. M. Bounds once wrote, “Only God can move mountains, but faith and prayer move God.” There is so much depth to this mystery, I can only speculate on what it means. But the good news is I don’t have to fully understand something to benefit from it.
Just remember that as you move, direction becomes clearer as you go. God, in his mercy, graciously chooses not to show us the whole journey. He shows us the next step, then the next, and the next. It’s an adventure of trusting His guidance because He is with us all the way.