Turning Points Magazine & Devotional

June 2021 Issue

Trouble Maker

From the November 2020 Issue

New Ground: Claiming the Unknown

New Ground: Claiming the Unknown

There is a large horizontal art poster I admire—horizontally, it measures about 3 feet by 1.5 feet. It consists of six vertical photographs of the construction of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, from 1887 to 1889. Moving from left to right, the first photo shows the bare construction site in its earliest stage, while the sixth photo shows the completed tower. The camera’s location is the same in each photo, so the observer sees six benchmarks of progress as the tower moved forward—or upward, I should say.

I like this because it shows how something beautiful starts from an idea and moves to completion. How a dream or vision can become a tangible blessing and source of inspiration. But what the six photos on this poster don’t show is the difficulty involved in making something out of nothing. 

Well, no one ever said progress would be easy.

To make a long story short, the engineer who oversaw the construction of the tower, Gustave Eiffel, encountered all manner of opposition and obstacles. The design was considered by many to be unfeasible if not impossible; its height would surpass any structure in the world at the time. Artists and architects vehemently protested the design. A committee of three hundred prominent leaders submitted a public petition against the tower’s construction for the 1889 World’s Fair in Paris. They protested with “all [their] strength, with all [their] indignation . . . against the erection . . . of this useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower.” After the tower was completed, a prominent French author ate lunch every day in the tower’s restaurant because it was the only place in Paris where the tower was not visible!

Well, no one ever said progress would be easy. No one ever said that moving forward in life would be without opposition. That was the theme of last month’s Turning Points—moving forward in life. And this month we’re going to talk about what moving forward actually involves: gaining new ground. More specifically, we’re going to look at the obstacles that confront us when we decide to step out, move forward, and claim uncharted, unexplored, and unclaimed new ground for the Kingdom of God.

You’re going to read about six ways that claiming new ground can be difficult. Whether you set out to build the world’s tallest structure or build a life that is fruitful and pleasing to Christ, you will discover six things.

First, new ground is—not might be, but will be—uncomfortable and unfamiliar. It’s new ground because you’ve never been there before. It will be unfamiliar and most likely uncomfortable.

Second, new ground is uncertain and uncharted. Consider Magellan sailing around the world, Columbus sailing west to reach India and landing in today’s Caribbean, or Shackleton and his crew almost dying as they explored Antarctica. New ground is always uncertain and uncharted.

What vision, what blueprint, do you have for your forward-moving life?

Third, new ground is undeniable and unbelievable. From a purely human perspective, man has often pursued the impossible. “Reach for the stars” fueled man’s dream to walk on the moon! And when gaining new ground is attempted, it always seems unbelievable. But when accomplished, we think, “Why didn’t I gain this ground sooner?” And from a super-human perspective—the Christian perspective—we have God’s undeniable and unbelievable (as in “beyond what we might ask or think”) presence and power in us through the Holy Spirit.

Do you think Gustave Eiffel encountered any of these “uns” from 1887 to 1889? I’m sure he did. Building the world’s tallest, free-standing structure was new ground for him and for mankind. Many resisted him, but he moved forward—one step, one day, one girder, one bolt at a time. And the result was one of the most iconic images of architectural art in the world. He started with a drawing, a blueprint, and no doubt changed and amended it many times. But he kept moving forward.

What vision, what blueprint, do you have for your forward-moving life? What will it take for you to transform a bare patch of life into something that reaches for the heavens? I hope this issue of Turning Points will encourage you to identify the new ground that is waiting for you to claim. I hope you will embrace the “uns” in your path and create a life that brings glory to God and good to mankind!

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