Quite often people say something like this to me, "I feel like I am stuck therefore I feel like I am just not able to move ahead." I've learned that statement often means, "I am not happy where I am at right now, I need to move forward, but I don't know how to move forward. How do I move from where I am currently to where I wish to be; even if I'm not quite sure where I want to be?"
Where Are You Now?
Perhaps this sounds a bit trivial or dumb. However, listening to many many people, my take is most people can't answer this question very well. Asking the question over and over again, only one in ten come close to knowing where they currently are in life. Maybe, they know what they do for work, what activities they are involved in daily, but knowing where they are in thought, mind, and desire often many don't have a clue.
While speaking with an owner of a large construction company in South Africa, Bryan, he looked at me and said, "Ah, I just don't know Don about this job?" Now from my point of view he was quite successful at what he did. Consequently he enjoyed a nice house, nice - very nice cars, good marriage, kids in very posh colleges, and surrounded himself with all the trimmings of success. Once I asked, "So Bryan, where are you exactly in your life right now." Dumbfounded with a shrug of his shoulders, he said, "I just don't know."
Now, my grandfather loved to drive. Accordingly, he sometimes drove one hundred miles to take grandma to lunch. Therefore, every summer my grandpa showed up at my mom's house. Raised by a single mother, there was little money for extras. Grandpa and Grandma ensured that my mother, myself, and five other siblings enjoyed a vacation every summer; oh, and snoopy our dog too!
Upon his arrival in his 72 Chevy Impala, the miracle began! Slowly and precisely grandpa packed all of our belongings. Fishing rods, fishing tackle, suitcases, games, food, drinks, coolers, baseball bats, gloves, footballs, and toys all went into the trunk of his car. It always looked like a miracle, how mounds of stuff all went into that trunk. Then the second miracle began. In the back seat of his four door Chevy, six kids and our dog loaded up. With mom in the middle in the front, grandpa in the driver's seat, and grandma in the passenger's seat that totaled nine humans and one dog all in one car ready for the three hour trip to Great Grandpa and Grandma's cabin up North!
Now more than one time during those early years of my life, I asked my grandfather upon embarking on our trip, "Grandpa how do we get up North to the cabin?" Grandpa always responded, "You first have to know where you're at right now before you can look to where you're going." My early year's response was, "Why?" Grandpa expounded on many occasions that before one looks to where one is going, one first must understand where one is. This he believed important for a number of reasons.
First, the moment is all one really ever possessed. "Know what you have now, because now is all you've got!" That didn't make much sense to a ten year old, but as I've put on fifty more years, it makes a lot of sense now. The past is behind me, and tomorrow is only a hope because all I am is right here, right now.
Second, knowing where you're at is important so you can know where you came from; your upbringing, roots, and origins. Grandpa thought this important. You are who you are because you come from where you came from, and you go to where your going because of where you are right now.
Third, if you don't know where you came from, you'll never know how far you've gone, and how far you still have yet to go. He used to tell me, "Buddy, if you don't know where you're at, then you'll not be sure where you are going, and you'll never be sure if you've arrived; really all you'll ever do is wander looking for somewhere else to go." With that he gave me the old road atlas map and put me to work.
So, where are you going today?
Just My Thoughts
Don was born in North Minneapolis, Minnesota. Having served twenty-two years in South Africa as missionaries with his wife Kathy, and eight years pastoring in the United States, he shares unique perspectives about life, family, relationships, and ministry.