Monday, August 13, 2007

Charting Growth

My pastor briefly mentioned in his sermon a couple of weeks ago that you can’t watch growth; you can only measure it after the fact. The illustration that he used was that of being told that his children had grown; however, he hadn’t seen the growth in their height because he is around his children all the time.

Along the same lines, I recall a bold statement by author and speaker Angela Thomas who spoke at a conference that I attended. She shared about how she desired to be changed each year such that the people she spoke to one year would recognize her in future years at conferences but would be able to tell that there was something different about her.

I want that same thing too. And to some degree, I can tell that I’ve grown. If I think back to what I was like in high school, I can definitely see that I am not the same person. I am a little less self-absorbed, I’m not as OCD with cleaning (though I still like to keep things organized), I’ve switched from being a cat person to a dog person, and I’ve broadened my palette and actually eat some vegetables. None of those things happened overnight.

And yet, somehow, I get frustrated with my spiritual growth because it doesn’t happen fast enough. Becoming more like Jesus is difficult in our fast-paced world because we want an instant change, or at least I do. I don’t want to hear that it is a process. It seems like it doesn’t count if it isn’t a dramatic transformation like Saul/Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus:

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.

Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, "Isn't he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn't he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?" Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ. (Acts 9:17-22)

Although I haven’t had instant change like Paul, I would be remiss if I said that I haven’t grown spiritually. In the past seven or eight years, God has stretched me in some interesting ways. He’s challenged me physically. He’s challenged me mentally. And He’s challenged me emotionally.

In the midst of those challenges, I have had some failures. I have given in to fear at times, sometimes to the point of anxiety and more health issues. I have given in to self-reliance at times, only to see that I can’t change myself by myself no matter how many checklists I create.

And so in taking my personal inventory and checking for growth, I can definitely see that God has been faithful. I don’t know what I’ll be “when I grow up,” but I hope I look more like Christ.

“Thank You Father for being faithful to work in me amidst my failures and backsliding. It is You who makes forward progress and all growth possible. Give me eyes to see the growth in others and encourage them in their spiritual walks.”


michelle said...

Don't you wish we could do the sharpie on the doorframe with all areas of growth. I would be so much more encrouaged if I could visually see how far I've come...and challenged when I am not going anywhere!

"Bluebonnet in the snow" said...

M - You read my mind! After I posted this, I thought I should have included a reference to my doorframe back home where we charted our growth in height. With a spiritual growth chart on the doorframe, it might be hard to watch the marks being made for the backsliding times, but at the same time, encouraging to see that hopefully those times don't last forever.