Your career, your relationships, your health, your spiritual life – all have a trajectory, or should. There is no maintaining in life. You are either growing or declining. Why? Because the world around you is moving, even if it seems like your world remains the same, the rest of the world is not static, so if you stay the same, you fall behind. It’s not because you are slipping backward, it’s because everything in the world is moving: morality, societal norms, technology, discovery, medicine, sociology and much more. You cannot at the same time remain still and keep up.
Trajectory does not mean you should be moveable on foundational truths of God’s Word. It does not mean you vacillate with the prevailing ideas of the times or the governmental administration or the unsteady shifting sand of society and its ever-changing idea of right and wrong.
Do not detach from your biblical moorings; they are the only thing holding you steady in a floundering sea of confusion. A trajectory is not the same as a ricochet – bouncing all over the place and never squarely hitting the mark.
Trajectory has been defined many ways; one is simply “an upward path.” Although that is possible, trajectory is not always upward. If you throw a ball, it doesn’t fly in a straight line on a level plane. It begins to lose energy and when it does, it begins to drop until it falls out of the air entirely and lands on the ground.
The same is true with firing at a target. If you’ve ever fired a gun, especially at targets a great distance away, you understand a bullet does not fly in a straight line. At great distances, a bullet loses some velocity and begins to drop. At 50 yards it’s only a millimeter or two. At 100 yards, it’s more. If you shoot at extreme distances like 500 or 1000 yards the drop is several feet.
A bullet can also move left or right, and in some cases it can even rise as it travels toward the target. Radiant heat, like that from desert sand makes those wavy lines on the horizon you see on a hot day. That rising heat can be so extreme that it can cause a bullet to rise slightly.
It’s only a small amount, but if you are aiming at a target that is 500 yards away, and you want to hit the bullseye, you have to calculate that slight rise as you determine where to aim, or the bullet will hit higher than you expected. You’ll miss the target because you didn’t calculate your trajectory correctly. If you want to be on target, you have to maintain a figure out the proper trajectory.
You must factor in all the variables to determine the correct trajectory and be accurate. The same is true in other areas of your life. Pastor Phil Pringle says, “You will become like the five friend who are closest to you.” That’s true, because you are on their trajectory.
Spend a lot of time around people who say “y’all” and you will begin to parrot that slang. It influences your vocabulary trajectory. If you live off-the-grid in the hills of Montana where only elk will see your outfit because no human lives within 50 miles; you don’t wear what’s fashionable, you wear what’s practical. Your choice of where to live and how you live, influences your lifestyle trajectory.
Your physical health trajectory is affected by what you feed your body. Feed it sugar and starch, fizzy drinks and fast-food and pretty soon, a chart of your health trajectory will resemble a snowman – plump with a big bump in the middle. Eat healthful foods, exercise, and be disciplined in your choices and it’s a different chart. Your health trajectory will be first, much longer, second, much healthier, and third, less medicated.
In much the same way as your health trajectory, your spiritual trajectory is affected by the spiritual influences around you. You will reflect the life and vitality of the church you attend. If you aren’t attending one, you will reflect that – spiritually empty and lacking.
The other extreme is also true – get all of your spiritual teaching from glitzy polished TV evangelists and you will look and sound like they do, appeal only to others like you, and repulse the world who needs Jesus.
The world, though unsaved and unchurched, can recognize a real Christian by their trajectory. Where are they headed? That unsaved person who sees you every day will either want to go where your trajectory is progressing, or they will not want anything to do with you. Do you live a life people want to live? Is your life headed a direction people want to follow?
I’m not talking about lavish or impressive, I mean do you live a life of obvious purpose, fulfilling accomplishments, joy, peace, and direction? There is nothing wrong with having good and even lavish things, so long as those things don’t have you. I want excellence in my life. I don’t want to have barely enough. I want to have enough to satisfy my needs, but also to meet someone else’s needs. I want good in my world and work, not negative.
James wrote, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, with whom there is no change or shifting shadow.” (James 1:16,17)
If every good and perfect gift is from above (from God), that’s what I want in my life. Why would anyone want anything else?(!) The world without Christ is on a destructive trajectory. They don’t need to change a thing and they’ll keep going the same direction. Their life is headed downward and it’s right on track. A slight adjustment is not enough. That trajectory must be stopped.
Stop going that direction. Start following Jesus. Matthew wrote, “Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If any of you wants to be My follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24)
If your world is full of destruction and discouragement and anguish and pain and sickness and there is no evidence of blessing or good, you need to check your resources. Your trajectory is off. You’re not going the direction people need to go. Your target, your life – your trajectory, needs to be eternally changed. Only Jesus can do that (Colossians 3:1).
Does that mean Christians never have any difficulties? Of course not. I’ve experienced them, you have too. You may not see it, but that successful person you know has had their share of difficulties, or deaths in the family, or financial setbacks. Those are the influences that affect your trajectory, but they should not determine where you end up. Figure those effects into your calculations. James also said, “Count it all joy when you fall into diverse trials and difficulties.” (James 1:2) Adjust. Aim higher, ‘cause the world will naturally pull you down.
I’m saying, if your life is characterized by your work, and your relationships, and your life is a mess, you must ask yourself what’s missing? If God is the source of all that is good, as James 1:17 states, and you have nothing good or pleasant in your life, what’s missing? God. Your trajectory is wrong.
When I lived on the farm and worked around cows, I often smelled like the cows. Not because I wanted to, but because cows have a strong odor. I smelled like they smelled because I was near them. The smell washes off, but spend time near a cow, and you will soon stink again.
Your life is headed somewhere. You have a target, and you will strike it. If you don’t choose God’s trajectory, the world will choose a trajectory for you. Direction, velocity and power determine your trajectory and that determines what mark you hit – where you end up in life.
What powers your life Watchman? Is it the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:19)? What direction have you chosen (Joshua 24:15)? Have you made any corrections or adjustments (Isaiah 28:13)? If not, you will; no one gets it right the first time. “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).
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