This life therefore is not righteousness, but growth in righteousness,
not health, but healing, not being but becoming, not rest but exercise.
We are not yet what we shall be, but we are growing toward it,
the process is not yet finished, but it is going on, this is not the end, but it is the road.
All does not yet gleam in glory, but all is being purified.”
― Martin Luther
Many of our days on this earth are made up of opportunities for growth. And guess what. Those growth opportunities often hurt. Sometimes growth is forced, making us able to reach heights we wouldn’t have thought possible. It’s only when that season is over and we see the fruit that came from the process do we have an inkling of understanding.
Often, we tend to think our growth is stunted because we don’t get what we want when we want it. We look around at what we haven’t achieved and measure it next to what we hoped we would. We design our own personal growth charts marked with labels of failure and disappointment. We confuse attaining personal goals, hopes, and dreams with spiritual growth that only comes from waiting, hoping, and praying.
We have to change our perception of growth in order to understand the process.
I’ve been sorting out some emotions lately. I’m not a fan of what I’m feeling. I’ve asked God to take away what isn’t right and remove from me anything which may be unpleasant to Him. The more I pray that particular prayer, the stronger those unwanted feelings become.
I’m doing everything I usually do to help combat thoughts that make me uncomfortable. I pray, memorize scripture that speaks to my situation, and then pray some more. The other day I had an epiphany that these feelings are oddly familiar. And not in a good way.
When I was trying to become pregnant, we reached a point where it just didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen. Paul and I were doing everything we felt the Lord was telling us to do. We were seeking and serving like never before. Feeling tired of carrying that burden, I habitually asked the Lord to remove my desire to have another baby. It was too hard and nothing was changing. I felt like my growth was stunted, and yet, in hindsight, I was growing further spiritually than I ever had. It hurt. It stretched me beyond measure. Through that time, the Lord never took the desire from me. Instead, after years of my pursuing in obedience, He finally answered our cries to have more children.
I’ve asked God to take away the burden I’m facing right now. He hasn’t. I’m right where I was before. Different circumstances, same struggle.
What does it all mean? I’m not really sure, but I’ve been here before. I’m aware that I’m growing. If I weren’t, it wouldn’t hurt this much, and I wouldn’t be as thirsty for His knowledge as I am.
After everything I’ve seen God do in my life, I should be raising up pompoms while praising Him for this opportunity to grow. Instead, I’m feeling rather drained of energy. I feel as if I’ve been there, done that. I want to shout, “Okay, I’ve grown enough! Just fix this already, God!” And of course, He has no problem saying, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” Oh for crying out loud!
So I surrender. My pompoms resemble torn and tattered white flags covered with the mascara from my tears as I tell Him I want what He wants for me. And if that means some pain, and even some scars, I’m willing. I want to grow, as long as it means growing in Him.
I’m okay with being stretched, because when I wave the white flags of surrender, He waves a banner of love over me from on high. And when I put it in those terms and take on a new perception of growth, it all seems worth it.
It’s worth it because I’ve seen the fruit He produces. It is the sweetest and it’s nothing this world can offer. And let’s not forget, we have more influence that we think. People will watch us struggle through the difficulties and eventually see the work Christ is doing in our lives. Our growth will become a through process that He will use to change others.
My prayer today: God, I’m willing to accept the plan you have to work through me. Help me to be obedient to you throughout the process of growth. Let my life be used to touch others. And help me to be happy about it . . . (Hey, I’m just being honest.)
And everyone who is feeling the growing pains shouts, “Amen!”