(Acts 13:43) When the congregation was dismissed, many of the Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who talked with them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
(Philippians 2:12) Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling…
(2 Timothy 3:14) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it…
Twice in the last week, I have wakened in the morning with the Lord whispering the word “continue” to my heart. I haven’t been stressed, discouraged, or thinking of quitting, He simply seemed to be encouraging me to think about what it means to continue.
Paul used this word a lot in his writing, so I put just a few references at the top of this page for us. With all that the early church was facing, the Holy Spirit seemed to frequently need to remind them to continue in grace, salvation, and the principles that they had learned.
The word “continue” means: To remain in a state, condition, or place–to abide indefinitely; to last, to be durable, to endure, to be permanent. To persevere, endure, to stay the course.
The word “continue” is interesting because can have either a stationary, or an in motion, application. Sometimes we continue to stand firmly in place and resist all efforts to dislodge us from the Word and will of God. But at other times, we continue on a course, or through a change of direction. We do not stop; we continue all the way through circumstances, time, or space, to arrive at our determined destination. The Bible uses the word “continue” in all of these ways to promote the idea that in God it is always to soon to quit, and if we don’t give up, we always arrive at victory in Him.
Today I was thinking particularly about the “in-motion” idea of continuing. I spend a fair amount of time on two wheels, whether powered or unpowered, on pavement or off. One thing that you hear over and over is that to be a safe and efficient bicycle/motorcycle rider, you have to keep your head up and your eyes looking down the road. The principle when riding, and when living your life, is that you WILL follow the path of your gaze. Said another way, you will hit what you fix your gaze upon.
Instructors teach riders to look where we want to go at all times, not where we don’t want to go. If you are riding down a trail, or coming down a paved mountain pass, you keep your head and eyes up. You don’t allow yourself to get “target fixated,” by staring at the big rock in the middle of the trail, the back of the RV in front of you, or the white line on the right hand edge of the road beyond which is an abyss, because if you fixate on those things, you will inevitably ride right into them. The same is true in our spiritual lives. The Scripture tells us to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, and set our minds and keep them set on things that are above. Why? Because He is where we want to be.
This, “go where you look principle” applies equally when our road is straight and when we have to change direction. Sometimes walking by faith requires us to press straight on past something that threatens us, or that would seek to take us off track. In those moments, we must keep our eyes on God and His promises, and continue straight ahead. Do not look to the left or the right! Do not fixate on the problem or threat, keep your eyes and heart lifted to Him!
At other times, on the road or in life, we need to change course, or life throws a curve at you. The time tested method for riding through a curve is to keep your head and eyes up, look through the curve at the exit and beyond. You don’t stare at your front wheel, or the road or trail right at your feet; you don’t look at that outside edge even if it seems to be getting closer. If you start to think you are not going to make it through this turn, you point your chin and eyes further in, you press the bike down deeper into the lean and ADD power, you don’t reduce it, you trust your tires to hold you on course. If you roll off power, brake, or get distracted in the middle of that turn, bad things can start to happen. You keep your mind fixed on where you have determined to go; you continue! You plan for exiting that curve and taking on what lies beyond.
Now, there is a lot we are not saying here today. For instance, I am assuming here that you are living your life well to some degree as you come up on this change of direction. On a bike that means I am keeping up with maintenance, keeping some good tires on it, and I have entered the turn in the first place at a reasonable speed. With our spiritual lives it means that we are maintaining our walk with God, staying connected to Him and to His body, and we are somewhere near, hopefully very near, on the course that He has set for our lives.
That said, going through changes of direction with God, really is much like going around a curve in the road or trail. There are principles that will always work for us if we work them. You have to trust Him and lean into Him hard. If things come along that try to push you off course, you lean harder on His Word, and you ADD power through prayer and time spent in His presence. What you don’t do is stop applying the power to your life by neglecting your time in the Word, prayer, and church. And, that is exactly what your emotions will try to get you to do. No! Press in! Look through the transition, knowing that the promise of God holds a whole new set of adventures on the other side. Trust Him! Lean on Him! Continue!!