So, I was listening to UCB Radio last week (as usual!) and the speaker was saying it’s impossible to grow and stay the same while we are on our walk with God. Now, this sounds obvious, right? You can’t move forward and stay where you are at the same time, that’s a physical impossibility, but I hadn’t really thought about this in terms of our spiritual growth. If you think about something growing physically, it has to move into a new space in order to transform. Whether that is a seedling pushing its way through the soil into the light, or a little baby who, over time, grows into the next size sleep suits, both are active, both develop, both increase their capacity: their height, width and breadth.
Our spiritual growth needs to be the same. The writer of Hebrews also uses the analogy of a baby and makes a distinction between milk and solid food. Those who live on milk are ‘unskilled in the word of righteousness’ as they are children, ‘but solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice.’ (Hebrews 5: 13&14). Peter asks us to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ’ (2 Peter 3:18) and Proverbs 1:5 reads, ‘Let the wise hear and increase in learning’.
James then adds another dimension to our spiritual growth: discomfort, ‘Count it all joy, my brother, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.’
There are times on our spiritual walk when we need to come out of the comfortable place we are in in order to move into the new things God has planned for us. Those ‘trials’ are what build our strength, increase our perseverance and prepare us the next stage of our journey with Him. I for one, feel God drawing me out of my comfort zone in the coming season. This began when I received an email to be interviewed on UCB about this blog. My instant reaction when I received the invitation was to say, “No!”.
I don’t like putting myself in a position where I may make mistakes or could make a fool of myself. I don’t want to be scared, nervous or uncomfortable (I mean, who does right?), but this immediate response was made without any reference to God’s will and I had to pull myself up when I realized that, in the past, my own spiritual growth has always followed periods of discomfort, struggle or difficulty. Just because the idea of being interviewed live on national radio made me feel uncomfortable, did not mean I shouldn’t do it. Sometimes God calls us into discomfort because that place will lead us onto the next step on our journey.
I’m reminded of Abraham, called to leave ‘his country, his people and his father’s household’ to go to a land God would show him (Genesis 12: 1). He was 75 at the time and would have laid down some pretty strong roots but he ‘went as the Lord had told him’ (Genesis 12: 4) not knowing where his journey would take him, armed with a promise that God would make him into a great nation and bless him (Genesis 12: 2).
I just want you to think about that for a second. Talk about being taken out of your comfort zone! But there’s promise to each one of us when we too follow God’s call into the unknown, he will bless us. ‘Blessed are those who remains steadfast under trial, for when they have stood the test, they will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.’ (James 1: 2).