We’ve all been there… where it just doesn’t seem like we’re growing in the Lord. Stuck in the mud. Weighed down by life and slowed down. Coasting. drifting. wandering. We know God is making his children into the image of Christ, but it seems (like a caterpiller metamorphosing into a butterfly) that we’re stuck at some point and not moving.
The Lord says, “if you seek me you will find me” and that he is a “rewarder of those who earnestly seek him.” (Jer 29:11 & Heb 11:6)
So, what help can I get in earnestly seeking him? Here are seven questions to help you out of the cocoon:
1) Do I have a goal & a plan? We have training goals to run a marathon, business goals at work, home improvement goals. When was the last time you sat down and gave yourself a legitimate goal or two in terms of getting to know God better? Maybe it’s a reading goal: Read the NT in 2 months. Read a Psalm a day for 5 months. OR, a prayer goal: Cycle through a weekly prayer list. List 90 things to give thanks for between Thanksgiving and Christmas. OR, a fellowship goal: only miss church one Sunday in next 4 months, or well, you get the idea. And, write down a plan that will carry you there: get up 15 minutes earlier and start the day with the Lord; turn off screens at Xpm, and unwind the day with the Lord; give regularly, serve in a new way, look at each person I see with God’s eyes. A million ways to jump start your spiritual growth… you just gotta pick a few bite-sized steps, and aim toward some specific goals.
2) Do I grasp compound interest? In finance, compound interest is the greatest thing (when it works for you… and the worst thing when it works against you). It means this: you earn interest in the second year on the original amount PLUS the first year’s interest. In spending time with the Lord, compound interest also works: the more you read Scripture, the more it changes you, and the deeper you grow. In Scripture and prayer, in giving and regular attendance at church/HC. For instance: You may not understand everything the first time you read Romans, but the 5th time you are seeing things you never dreamed of! Why? “Spiritual Compound Interest.” Every time I come across something that doesn’t mean much to me or seems confusing to me, I just say, “Well, Lord, I can’t wait till it’s time for me to learn that!”
3) Am I willing to take the time? If you have a goal and a plan, and if you grasp “spiritual compound interest”, then it’s a matter of allocating resources: the most precious of which is time! Nothing worth having will come for nothing. So, if you want to grow in Christ, ask yourself: “Am I willing to invest the time?”
4) Do I have any unconfessed sin or am I rationalizing a habit that displeases God? Some people want to follow God on their own terms. But you can’t. Either he’s God or he’s not. If he’s God, then he’s the one who frames the parameters of what living right means (which are also the parameters for what living well means). So, ask yourself: what sin am I harboring in my heart or life? We’re all sinners, but some of us have speicifc things we aren’t willing to face and bring before God to confess. What habits are not becoming for a child of the king? Maybe you use God’s name in vain, maybe you carry credit card balances or drink way too much soda. Habits that displease God. Take an inventory by asking the Spirit to bring to mind the things he wants to change.
(And by the way, the Spirit likely won’t tell us everything the first time we ask. He’d overwhelm us! So, he gives us a couple of things. But you can be sure that he will also give us the grace to work on it.)
5) Do I know God delights in me? Of all the creatures in the universe, from supernovae to sea horses, you alone he sent his son to die for! Your name was written in the book of life before the foundation of the world. He knit you together in your mother’s womb exactly as he intended. How much does God love you? Infinitely. And, he delights in those he loves. As you desire to get closer to God, don’t forget he desires exactly the same thing, and for every step you take, he’ll take 10!
6) Do I recognize that the enemy wants to sidetrack me? This is a corollary of #5. Everything God loves, Satan hates. So, he hates you. He wants you to skip church, sleep through your daily devotional time, watch more TV at night, never give money or time to Christ, etc., etc. Why? Becasue these draw you to God. He wants you to dwell on feelings that God couldn’t love you or probably won’t forgive you. He wants you to keep thinking “I can do better for God, and I will next time!” (That, of course, is a description of “religion”… where we work toward and for God… the antithesis of Grace). knowing that Satan doesn’t want me to move toward God makes me want to grow in Christ all the more! I don’t want to give Satan one ounce of satisfaction! 1 Peter 5:8-9
7) Have a wrestled with Grace so that I can rest in it? The deepest fact of the universe, the inner-most truth is that God’s grace is far, far greater than my sin, shortcomings, failings and selfishness. Those are all real and dire… but God’s grace is more abundant, more amazing, longer-lasting, and more astounding. “You’ll never be good enough to earn God’s love, and you’ll never be bad enough to exhaust God’s grace.” If we truly believed this, we’d run to God all day long! Romans 8:28-38; 5:12-20
These seven questions, taken seriously, will get you flying in no time at all!