The Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary and Thesaurus defines “get ahead of yourself” as “to do something too early, or before you are ready or prepared.” One often hears a public speaker make a remark about getting ahead of himself when he detours from the main subject at hand and goes off track to another item.
While in public speaking “getting ahead of oneself” might be excused as taking the listener on an intriguing detour, it is not recommended when serving God. With kindness and grace, Jesus showed the disciples that going ahead of Him was not the way to succeed.
The disciples were sent on ahead of Jesus to Bethsaida, while he cared for the crowd. In the boat on the lake, the disciples met with strong headwinds that made the journey extremely difficult. They were “straining on the oars” (v. 48). The hardness of their hearts about Jesus feeding the 5,000 led them to fear Jesus as He walked on water toward them. Rather than being comforted, they were “terrified” (v. 50). Instead of being encouraged by the presence of the One who had the ability and power to feed 5,000 with no apparent supplies, they became afraid.
It can be easy for us to make plans that seem pleasing to God but are actually getting ahead of what the Lord wants us to do. We may pray over our plans and offer ideas that will strengthen ministries, but waiting to put our ideas in action is difficult. Yet, to make sure we are not running ahead of the Lord, we have to plan with wisdom and delay our plans if necessary. Thankfully, the Lord may sometimes provide strong winds to slow us down and allow Him to intervene with our plans. Thankfully, too, our attempts at running ahead of the Lord will not stop others from recognizing Jesus.
Zeal for the Lord is good and right, and even commanded in Scripture (Rom. 12:11)! But we must moderate our zeal with wisdom and patience. Our future-planning, vision-casting, organizational overhauls and personal improvement projects all need a healthy dose of “show me your will” sprinkled throughout them. Slow us down, Jesus!