Overcoming stagnancy

Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed Pastors Corner

This episode identifies two ways that Christians can reduce stress and live joyfully
  1. Turn Overwhelmed into Overjoyed
  2. Overcoming stagnancy
  3. How to overcome insecurity
  4. The Power of a Seed

The Book of Ecclesiastes is one of my personal favorites. Not only is it rich in breathtaking imagery, but the wisdom that fills each verse is beyond human comprehension. Inspired by the Spirit of God, Solomon presents us with very realistic insights into life, death, and God’s plan for each of us between those two points.

In today’s post-sermon, I want to draw on Ecclesiastes 1 to focus on how to overcome stagnancy in our natural and spiritual lives.

The problem

Many times we find ourselves in spiritual/mental “ruts”. These are places where we can’t move forward. We feel stuck. Confused. Sometimes even like a prisoner.

We may pray or seek spiritual guidance, but we don’t always see the results that we want right away. Sometimes we need to cling to things or people too much and that hinders us from being able to move on. Our memories of the past can stop us from embracing what God has planned for our future.

No matter what the reason, we need to overcome stagnancy to grow into the men and women that Christ envisions.

The solution

One generation passes away and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever.

Ecclesiastes 1:4

To overcome stagnancy, we need to recognize that our time on this earth is too precious to stand still.

Change is all around us. Sometimes it is good and sometimes not. We can only live a full and complete life when we align ourselves with the opportunities for positive change that God brings to us.

On my way up to church this morning, I almost missed my exit off the highway because I saw a brilliant maple tree that lit up the road with its gorgeous leaves that were painted in shades of red.

What allowed that tree to change?

It accepted the fact that the season had turned. Somehow, unbeknownst to you and me, a message was sent to all creation in our area that the fall season is here.

Ecclesiastes 1 shows us that life is filled with great cycles. Distinct seasons of change happen—spring and summer, birth and death. They are all part a great circle that keeps our world turning.

If we hold onto one stage we will never be able to embrace the next. This is why the Christian must always look forward. That is why we must always be willing to let go of what we have now to accept what God has in store.

For that tree to stay in tune with God’s program, it had to change.

So do you and I. Stagnancy, or the refusal to let go of the past and move on, can keep us from fulfilling our part in God’s plan.

Sometimes we get a certain thought in our minds—a desire that we have or a goal that is un-reached. Stagnancy will keep us focused on that desire or goal while God may have another path to which He is trying to attract our attention.

Many of us have heard of Fanny Crosby, the author of more than 9,000 hymns. One of the first things that comes to mind about Fanny is that she was blind. She wasn’t born blind— her affliction came from the wrongful treatment of a pretended doctor. You can imagine the disappointment this produced, especially when it was followed by the death of her father a few months later.

A stagnant approach would be to focus on her blindness. But Fanny once made the following remark.

Do you know that if at birth I had been able to make one petition, it would have been that I was born blind? Because when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my sight will be that of my Savior.”

Fanny Crosby

Her refusal to remain stagnant—or to focus her attention on her condition instead of what she could do for the Lord—led Fanny Crosby to become one of the most influential songwriters of of all time. By age 23, she had addressed Congress and wrote hymns for several U.S. presidents.

Why? What allowed this woman to move forward instead of remaining stagnant?

When we understand that we only have this brief span of life to be all that God wants us to be, we become driven to accomplish God’s purpose. We embrace the challenges His Word offers us and grow by them. We accept the difficult situations of life, no matter how unpleasant, because we know that through them He is molding us into His image.

Yes, the earth endures but you and I only have a few heartbeats. So make every moment count.

What if a tree could talk? Imagine if it could say, “well I’m comfortable where I am. I don’t want to push forth the effort to grow or to change.” It would die. But all of nature portrays that change is life and life is change. Likewise, to be stagnant is to die on the inside. We must push forth the effort to grow in Christ and as human beings.

How do we deal with the past?

The past may comfort us. The past may be filled with things we’d rather forget. It can inspire us, or make us laugh. But the past should never rule over us. It should never dictate how we live in the present. Because today is a new day—a day that brings us closer to the Eternal Day which will never end.

Fanny Crosby died about a month before she turned 95. Her last verse of poetry read, “You will reach the river brink, some sweet day, bye and bye.” I’m confident that she got her wish and that the first face she saw was the Lord Jesus.

As our world and our lives change in ways most of us never imagined, let’s focus on our attitude.

Look inside. Do you recognize the opportunity that this new season brings to you? Or do you focus so much on the negative that you can’t see the beauty of what’s right ahead?

Recognize that we only have today. And, with that mindset, embrace God’s plan for this season in your life.

Brother Joseph

Recommended reading:

Ecclesiastes 1 (whole chapter)

1 John 2 (whole chapter)

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