Christian Growth Is A Crooked Line
Over the weekend I had a heart attitude problem.
It's not uncommon, but it's still something difficult to deal with. It's especially difficult when you're struggling with a trial you thought you'd overcome by the grace of God. Not until you're tested again in the same area (sometimes over and over again) do you truly see where you're growing and were you've still got some work ahead.
High expectations lead to difficult disappointments. If you think you've arrived, you haven't. God will always do something to grab your attention and let you know that you'll never "arrive."
But that's what we think. We assume that once we gain the victory over a difficult situation, attitude or sin that we're moving on up. It would look something like this.
Unfortunately, that's not how God works. If He did, we'd all go to heaven the moment we're saved because we would be perfect. You and I are both still here ... what does that tell you?
Instead, our Christian growth looks more like this.
Perfect in the Bible doesn't mean "without fault." It means mature, wise and complete. When we're called by God to be perfect before Him, it means that we're to be growing in knowledge and patience and striving to be closer to Him every day.
This striving has its wonderful moments, like when you've conquered a sin for one more day, or you have a peace inside that passes all understanding. Those are the days when you're moving up and closer to the Lord.
But other days you'll find yourself drifting to one side a little or even doubling back. That creates a funny loop in your growth graph, and that's where I found my disappointment this weekend. Something that I thought I had been victorious over crept back into the cracks - and I was devastated.
The great and wonderful truth about our God, though, is that He's not going to let us make backwards loops in our growth forever. He wants to protect us and grow us like tiny plants. He knows exactly what the full, mature tree will look like, and He's making it possible for us to reach our full spiritual potential.
Don't be concerned this week if your growth doesn't appear to be a straight line. It may look like a jumbled-up mess of yarn after a knitting party, but that's normal. Don't be disappointed in those moments when you feel like you're taking one step forward for every three steps back. Those are the moments when God encourages us to draw closer to Him.
We can't face this week on our own, and God doesn't expect us to. We won't grow in a perfectly straight line, and God doesn't expect us to. We won't meet all of our self-imposed expectations, and God doesn't expect us to.
What He does expect is for us to keep trying, keep pushing on and keep reaching out to Him.
That's what perfect looks like to God.