It was 11 years ago, July 4th weekend, 2010, our nation’s birthday. I should have been in a celebrative mood; instead, I found myself pensive and in deep thought. At times, tears flowed. Thankfully, none of this was caused by bad news. It was actually a song causing this strange frame of mind.
Music has incredible power to touch us at a deep level; and like the inaudible voice of God calling a salmon back to the place of its birth, the lyrics and powerful melody of this song were calling to something buried deep within my DNA. I couldn’t shake it...I didn’t want to.
The song was Pioneer, written by the incredible Nancy Honeytree and recorded again by my friend, Rick Pino. Rick had sent me a pre-release of his recording, stating that the song had an intense impact on him. I was its next victim. Pioneer speaks to the calling, challenges, often lonely life and rewards of a spiritual pioneer.
Keep pressing onward, beyond your fear
Only the Father goes before you
To your own frontier
You’re a pioneer
Uncharted wilderness stretches before you
And you thrive on going where no one has gone
Still it gets lonely when darkness deepens
So sing by the fire until the dawn
You travel light, you travel alone
And when you arrive, nobody knows
But the Father in heaven, He’s glad you can go
For those who come after you will need the road
What you have done others will do
Bigger and better, and faster than you
But you can’t look back, you gotta keep pressing through
There’s a wilderness pathway, calling you
Calling you, calling you clear
Keep pressing onward, you can’t stay here
Only the Father goes before you
To your own frontier
You’re a pioneer (1)
(You can hear the song by clicking here.)
Like all pioneers, I’ve known the lonely roads and uncharted wilderness pathways. Pioneering isn’t easy, but it is essential. As the song states, those who come after these agents of change will need the paths they find and the roads they build. And at this point in history, America is in desperate need of those who can lead the way back to the old road.
There are different aspects and levels of this calling. Few are called to do what I do, traveling millions of miles and leading prayer efforts in every state. I’ve been to all of them, multiple times. But as we shall see, conditions on earth sometimes demand that God place a degree of this pioneering spirit on many in a generation. Christ is currently placing a holy restlessness, a heavenly dissatisfaction, in many of His followers. A growing number of believers realize radical change is needed in America, and are becoming increasingly unwilling to accept status quo.
A pioneer generation will usually think differently than the one preceding them. Some people mistake the questioning nature of pioneers as rebelliousness but it is often simply a God-given predisposition toward change. “If it ain’t broken,” they’ll reject southern wisdom and “fix it” anyway. After all, there might just be a better way! Leave well enough alone? Not this crowd. They would rather create the flow than go with it. Creativity doesn’t bow to conformity.
Pioneers love to explore - ideas, possibility, a forest, small towns, new places - it doesn’t matter what. They just need to explore, search, scout around. The dictionary defines a pioneer as someone who explores, prepares or opens up a new way; someone who takes the lead or initiative. We’ve all read or heard about the early pioneers who opened up the American frontier, preparing the way for others to follow. We often refer to those who forerun in space exploration, technology, medicine, or science as pioneers. They’re found in every area of life, including religion.
Pioneers initiate; they go first, always ready to try something new. Not only are these way-makers open to change, they insist on it. There must be a better way, is never far from the thinking of a pioneer. They’re inventors, explorers, scouts, pathfinders, trailblazers, innovators, change-agents, reformers, and forerunners. Pioneers are the research and development crowd - the “what if” bunch, the “why” and “why not” folks. They’d rather write history than read it. They’ll rock any boat, buck any system and go against any flow. Status quo is never safe with a pioneer. Here are a few more identifying traits of those who have the pioneer gene:
- They are often dissatisfied with things as they are, AND want to be part of the change.
- Something deep inside their nature comes alive when they hear about making a difference.
- To them, being in the right is more important than being in the majority.
- The inconvenience of change doesn’t dissuade them; the stench of stagnation does.
- Trying - even when they fail - is more appealing to these change-agents than risk-free living.
- They refuse to quit, realizing that dead-ends and failed attempts are just part of the path-finding process.
- The beaten path doesn’t beckon pioneers, but uncharted wilderness does.
- Playing it safe doesn’t apply to forerunners - the boredom of the familiar scares them more than the fear of the unknown.
- These instruments of change are never satisfied with status quo. They have a warrior spirit that would rather fight, even die, than forfeit liberty.
- As forward thinkers, they would rather advance a cause than maintain a position.
- Always hungry for change, a pioneer can’t leave well enough alone - ever.
- They want their life to count for more than making money or experiencing pleasure.
- Making a difference means more to this crowd than making it big.
- They would rather die trying than live trying not to die.
- They march to the beat of a different drummer...and they often hear a completely different song!
If you’re a pioneer, don’t settle for being a settler! Don’t allow the need for the “known” to tame you. Doing so would mean part of who God created you to be will never find its voice. Voiceless pioneers experience a living death - their inner nature never finds its expression and the world they were created to change remains the same. Determine never to allow that. Find your voice. Better yet, find your SHOUT, and make a difference.
America Desperately Needs Pioneers
Deep in the soil of this land is pioneer blood, crying out for a new generation of trailblazers to answer a path-finding, pioneering call. This spirit is so needed now because America has lost her moral and spiritual bearings, straying from the basic principles that made her great. Truth, integrity, personal and corporate responsibility, self-discipline, biblical morality and the ideals of our founders - all have been at least partially lost. America now needs a new generation of pathfinders and way-makers to arise and lead us back to our roots. Ironically, the way forward is sometimes behind us. Contrary to what many people believe, “old” is not synonymous with “outdated.” The future must always be built on yesterday’s strong foundation The Psalmist said, in fact, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3).
The church should have been leading America back to our foundations, but Christians seem to have lost their connection to the pioneer spirit. Deep within the DNA of every believer is the spirit of Christ, the Pioneer of all pioneers, but this nature has been lost in the wilderness of conformity, religion, and compromise. God, however, is issuing a fresh and powerful invitation to believers:
Leave behind the safety and boredom of tame, anemic religion. Abandon the shallow life lived by the all-too-common narcissistic Christian in America. Overcome the fear of death, loss, and the unknown. Follow me back to what I birthed 2000 years ago: radical, world-changing, miracle-working, fearless, love-not-your-lives-unto-death, passionate, warrior-hearted pioneers!
Heaven is waiting for a remnant of God-fearing Americans to answer this call and begin a path-finding journey. Earth is waiting, also. Broken hearts, hungry bellies, enslaved people, war-ravaged nations, and the unsaved - they’re all desperately waiting for a 21st-century breed of pioneers to arise and lead.
Perhaps you’re one of them.
Pray with me:
Father, we need a remnant of pioneers to rise up in this moment of history. Change agents. Pathfinders. Trailblazers. Those with the same spiritual DNA and predisposition as the early church. Fearless. Bold. Different. Risk takers. Anoint them powerfully and help them find their voice.
I ask You to break the conformity to the world off of the church. Bring conviction, repentance and passion. Let the zeal of the Lord of Hosts come alive in a dormant, hibernating church. Awaken us!!!!
Bring revival. Then bring great reformation. Yes, we are desperate. But we are also confident! We know this will be granted. And we ask it in the name of the greatest Trailblazer who ever walked this planet, Yeshua.
We decree that we will blaze a trail for God’s will to be done in America.
1. Miller, Nancy Honeytree, Pioneer © 1993 by Oak Table Publishing, Inc/ASCAP.