It may not seem so spiritual, but I believe it to be true. If we are going to move forward in any endeavor, even our relationship with God – it takes a few key ingredients!

Planning: Most good things don’t happen by accident. In fact, even those things that appear to be coincidental come about because we’ve prepared ourselves ahead of time for it. Like the person who is offered a job promotion, even when they didn’t seek it. They still prepared for it in the way they developed their skills and used their abilities.

We can plan to have a good relationship with God the same way we can plan to have a good relationship with others. We set time aside. We adjust our priorities. We incline our heart toward His. This happens as we intentionally plan to put God first.

If your relationship isn’t what you want it to be, what is your plan? How will you seek Him out? How will you arrange your life differently? Does this mean we can make things happen? No, not really.

Plans alone don’t accomplish things. We have to carry them out and we have to trust God’s involvement with them. “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Prov. 16:9).”

Some of us have made lots of plans, but we still don’t seem to get off dead center. It takes initiative.

Initiative: Another key to forward movement is initiative. Initiative has to be informed by God, but often His invitation is to step out beyond our comfort zone. Remember Moses at the Red Sea. Israelites behind him and Egyptian armies behind them and a big bunch of water ahead of him, and God says, “put your stick in the water.” At my direction, take the initiative.

Some of us want to wait for something to happen to us or for us. We don’t want to step out ahead of God’s will. I can see that, but I also know, as I tell my kids, “it is easier to steer a moving car.” Get going, take some initiative to start… and let God fine-tune your direction. Step out; use one of your gifts and abilities in the smallest of opportunities God has put near you.

How will I ever know where to go, what to do, or what’s next? It takes conviction.

Conviction: This is really where the journey begins! We have to believe some things to be true. We have to believe that God has a direction for our lives. We have to believe that God is moving us to step up and step into a new promise, or a new direction. Where does conviction come from? It comes from His Word – knowing what God holds dear. It comes from understanding His mission. It comes from a clear picture of what He wants us to be “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you… (1 Peter 2:9).” It comes from prayer and listening. It comes from others who speak clearly into your life.

This is just what happened in my relationship with my Bride of 25 years. Soon after I met her, I had a conviction – “she was the One.” It was informed by the character I saw in her.  In fact I wrote that in my notebook and dated it in October of 1982. We dated for a month or so and then she dropped me like a hot potato. My conviction didn’t change, but my plans did. We became good friends and had hours of fun and conversation for the rest of that school year.

And the next year in school, ours blossomed into the relationship I had dreamed of and was convinced of. It has been a journey that God established. We continue to believe in a picture of God’s will that involves us serving Him together. We take initiative when it fits that plan. And we trust God to establish every step in His will.

What are you sure of? What can you start doing now? What are the hopes and dreams God has given you for the future? Then, keep believing, keep moving, keep envisioning and planning…and trust God to establish His will in you.