Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Worry About Growth (and a Testimony)

I have spent a large portion of my Christian life worrying about my growth.  Was I growing?  Was I growing enough?  Was I growing in all the right areas?  Was I growing as much as others?

Then I burned out on Christianity.  I just got so tired, I couldn't maintain the effort.  I couldn't keep the "perfect" mask on straight enough.  The Christian life just seemed so HARD.  I figured that I was basically a failure at Christian living, growth, righteous living, you name it. Everything felt cold and dead.  I just didn't feel like trying anymore.  So I didn't...

It was Christmastime.  The church was decorated with greenery, so lovely and festive.  I just sort of sat there.  And I remember the pastor saying, "Ask God to touch you this Christmas."  Yeah, right.  I knew that wouldn't do anything for me.  But I said inside in a half-hearted way, "Ok, God, touch me."

Well, what happened on that day was magical.  By the time I got out to the church parking lot, God had actually spoken in that still, small, but unmistakable voice - to me!  He had whispered words of reassurance that were just what I needed.  And something started to wake up inside..

Some time around this day, I can't remember exactly when, I was talking to my dear cousin on the phone.  We had always sort of connected about spiritual things.  He casually mentioned that his church had been teaching about GRACE, and it was like the words stood out in my mind just like those capital letters!  Of course, you can guess the rest of the story.  He recommended a few books, and it didn't take long before I was ruined by grace.  Yes, another victim of victory, to quote Rob Rufus.  Another captive of compassion!  Another grace junkie.  Yes, legalism lost another one - ha ha!  I have never been the same!

Well, I say all that to ask a question: why did God speak to me that day in the church parking lot?  Why then, when I was at the lowest, dumbest, most burned out point of my whole Christian life?  I think He wanted to show me something - that this whole work of salvation, sanctification, Christian growth and Christian living DID NOT DEPEND ON ME!  I always thought it was all up to me to make life work, or else He wouldn't accept me.  And here He was saying He had accepted me all along, and that everything depended on Him.

If everything depends on Him, why should I worry about growing?  Why should I worry about trying?  Why should I compare myself with others?  Why should I keep doing "fruit checks" to see if I'm progressing?  Why should I even be focused on my progress or changing at all?  HE'S TAKING CARE OF IT!  So I don't have to.  In fact He's already made me perfect in Christ, and He'll bring that perfection out in His time and in His way.  I'm free to take a nap with Jesus.  Sounds like a great idea!

                              The Rebellious Vine

One day, the vine
That climbed on God's own house
Cried, "I will not GROW,"
And, "I will NOT grow,"
And, "I WILL not grow,"
And, "I will not grow."
So God leaned out His head,
And said:

"You need not."  Then the vine
Fluttered its leaves, and cried to all the winds:
"Oh, have I not permission from the Lord?
And may I not begin to cease to grow?"
But that wise God had pondered on the vine
Before He made it
And all the while it labored NOT to grow,
It grew; it grew;
And all the time God knew.

                                                 Poem by Harold Monro


  1. Sparrow Girl,

    -"I think He wanted to show me something - that this whole work of salvation, sanctification, Christian growth and Christian living DID NOT DEPEND ON ME!"

    Well I have a question for you. How is it that you feel God showed you that sanctification and christian living doesn't depend on us?? If God tells us to do something, don't we have to take the next step of trusting HIM? Isn't the act of trusting God the one thing God can't help us with? Doesn't that depend on our willingness to obey?

  2. Jordan,

    It's sort of mysterious to me and I don't fully grasp it. It just seems that at the time, I am voluntarily, willingly trusting in Him - and yet later, upon looking back, I see that it was all Him moving me to that point and even to that trust. I see that my life has been made up of holy moments, and He has been the unseen mover just gently working. To me it relates to Him willing and working in me of His good pleasure, to His Spirit moving gently in me, and to Him being committed to finish the work He started in me. If He didn't help me to trust Him, I don't think I ever would...I don't fully grasp it myself, but it is a relief and comfort to me that this Christian life isn't on my shoulders but on His.

  3. That was so beautiful.
    I absolutely loved this description:
    "...another victim of victory, another captive of compassion, another grace junkie. Yes, legalism lost another one..."

    Indeed!!! How good is our God. :) I can SOOO relate to trying, trying, trying and then being surprised when He does such amazing and COMPLETE things when I don't try at all.

    He is Alpha...and Omega after all. :)

  4. Cirra,

    I love your words, too, that He does amazing and complete things when we don't try at all! Yes, such a joyous surprise! Those are the moments when I think He shows me most clearly what grace really is - that totally undeserved kindness, initiated by Him and not me. It just makes me melt with relief..

    Thank you for visiting!

  5. Totally true! I just finished writing a couple thoughts on my blog tonight that so clearly point to our absolute silliness to ever believe that we could DO IT in the first place. What lies! I get mad at those lies that I used to live by and are still propulgated by 'Christians' all over the place. As though Jesus' blood were not enough.

    It is so cool to hear a little on how He showed you His precious gift!

  6. Lewis Family,

    I know what you mean about feeling mad at the lies one used to live by! I've felt that, too..It's heartbreaking to think of those still living by those lies...

    Yes, His gift is precious, the most precious thing in all the world!

    I'm going to jump over to your blog to read your wise words now...

  7. YAY!! So glad He 'touched you' Sparrow and so glad you are here sharing your life with us all! It is indeed beautiful!!

  8. Lydia, He is so beautiful, isn't He?

  9. I FINALLY got around to placing a link on my desktop so that I will get by here more often! What WONDERFUL posts, Sparrow. It makes my heart leap to read about your new found joy and freedom. I think God answered you because you finally gave the point, you were poised to see Who really carries whom. And I love the poem, too. :)

    Must to school, work, etc.

    Have a marvelous day!

  10. Jamie,

    Thanks for coming by! Yes, it was at that low point that I could see most clearly "Who really carries whom." I think He brought me to that point, I know I really did nothing to effect it; I look back and say, wow, look what He did! He was truly carrying me all along!

    Thanks for your encouragement in this walk of grace !


May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14