Every one of us at one point has likely prayed, “Lord please move or move me.” It might be the Monday morning prayer of many a pastor. I am encouraged by what Job said, “The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9). If anyone could say that, sure enough Job could.
God has blessed me through the spiritual discipline of journaling. Back in the day, I heard former IMB president Tom Elliff share how he would have a word of the year. He would then focus on that “word” in his Read the Bible Through Plan, the sermons he listened to, the books that he read and, you get the gist. I’d strongly encourage you to adopt this practice in your life and write down what God shows you.
My word for 2023 is “move.” That includes any variation of that word such as motion, movement, forward, feet, and even the very word go. It’s amazing the way God puts us in motion. He often comes to us when we’ve become too comfortable or secure in a situation. It also occurs when we are wandering around or lingering like the children of Israel.
In Deuteronomy 2:3 God tells his people, “You have been wandering around in this hill country long enough; turn to the north.” God clearly told them to go. For the Israelites, the direction was north. For my wife, Dana, and me, it was east and specifically moving back to my hometown, to the place of my roots to serve as the Associational Mission Strategist for Salem South Baptist Association.
God had given us a wonderful season of serving through the North American Mission Board for over 22 years. I’m so grateful for this privilege. I must confess there was comfort and maybe even lingering on my part.
When I retired on April 4, my thought was my ministry would shift. I had my ideas. But then, after a short-lived retirement God clearly said to us, come over to serve the pastors and churches of Salem South Baptist Association. He has graciously allowed us to go full circle and my heart is to see God move in a way as only he can.
The key for being on the move with God is being immediately obedient to God. A meaningful quote that I recorded in my 2023 journal on this subject is from Richard and Henry Blackaby. “When the Lord gives you instructions, obey immediately. Don’t wait until you have it all figured out, until everything makes perfect sense to you. Sometimes God will lead you to do things that you will not fully understand until after you have done them.”
It has been said, “The Christian motto should not just be ‘let go and let God,’ but let’s not forget the ‘trust God and get going’ part. If we’re honest, the latter is a pain point for most of us. Watch for that word “move” in the Bible.
I have a friend who has coined the term “missional agility.” The problem is that we are not very agile when it comes to being on mission with God and going where he leads. God called the patriarch Abraham to leave the comfortable and go into the unknown. Likewise, Philip the evangelist and deacon went to the desert to share the gospel, reminding us that sometimes God calls us to leave a place where things are going great. The apostle Paul said he forgot the things which were behind and kept moving forward, pressing onward to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
These three are examples of moving forward, but the greatest move of all was when Jesus Christ left the glories of heaven and came to earth—fully God and fully Man—to die for our sin as the perfect sinless sacrifice. Death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, now that’s the ultimate move!
How is God moving you? How have you been wandering, and what might be that “long enough” place in your life? God might be saying this same thing to you and your church that he said to Abraham (and to me): It’s been long enough. Let’s now head in the specific direction that I tell you.
Bob Burton has moved to Mt. Vernon, where he is the new Associational Mission Strategist for Salem South Baptist Association.