A vector is a quantity that possesses both magnitude and direction.
I remember sitting in pre-calculus class and physics classes in high school and first learning about vectors. The cool thing about vectors is that they dictate more than just magnitude or speed, but they also dictate direction. Without vectors, we wouldn’t know we were moving in the right direction.
In CS Lewis’ book “Mere Christianity,” Lewis describes progress as a vector. He explains that progress isn’t just motion, but that it is motion in the proper direction. So often there are people who are either stagnant or they are moving in the wrong direction.
That isn’t progression.
That is ignorance.
You might’ve been the “nicest person” when you were a teenager, but if you are still the same person you were at 18, then you’ve been living in vain. Everyone can and should be in a process of growth. The goal of man is to pursue perfection – Christ-likeness. To this Paul writes: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” If we aren’t daily learning and growing and applying, then what are we doing with our lives?
Last week one of my friends passed away to be with the Lord. When I first became a Resident Assistant, Milton was on my hall. I knew right from the beginning that he was going to be my “problem child.” Born and raised in inner-city Chicago, Milton was a little rough around the edges. Up until then, my “suburban self” had no idea how to handle people who had a different past than myself. I had to learn to be patient and understanding with Milton.
At first things were difficult. Milton would watch TV during hall meetings, and crank his music up to unbearable decibels at the craziest hours of the night. To some people (especially people in bible college), I’m sure he seemed like a heathen. But when I talked to Milton, I saw the passion he had for the youth in Chicago. I saw his yearning to grow in the Lord, and his heart to heal the broken.
Milton was a man of progress.
I remember one moment distinctly. Milton had almost gotten into a fight with another student, and I was supposed to talk to him and send him to the Men’s Dean to sort the matter out. I remember sitting with him in our lobby for hours and talking to him about his life, the experience, and so on. I remember him telling me over and over how he didn’t hit the other student – a truly remarkable feet for Milton. If it had been a month earlier, I don’t know if the instant would’ve ended the same. And I just remember challenging him to not be happy with just that. I encouraged him keep pursuing Christ-likeness. And I then remember him breaking down in tears.
“Bobby, I’ve been staying after chapel everyday praying to God.”
It was so hard for him, but I knew at that moment he was truly seeking God to change him for the better. Milton was truly seeking God’s will with all that he possessed. I remember leaving that day being touched at how much Milton had changed in the few months I was his RA. And it was all God! It was great to just be the spectator – encouraging him along the way. I remember helping him with his English homework, and letting him use my computer, and then helping him navigate the internet. I remember before I even really knew him going with our campus pastor to the hospital to see Milton after he had had a seizure during one of our chapel services.
He was an inspiration.
He was a man of progress.
He was my friend.
Take time out of your day, and really reflect on whether you have been living life of progress or a life on autopilot. It’s so easy to get stuck in a place where you aren’t growing. But don’t allow that to happen.
Like Milton, realize your short-comings and work on bettering yourself everyday… one day at a time.
In memory of Milton Maurice Stewart. 5/13/1992-5/6/2012.