Thursday, April 14, 2011

Picture of Progress

            A few years back, as a Christmas gift for my in-laws I arranged their family photos into albums.  It was a little tricky since I had not grown up in that family.  But for the most part, I could gauge the year of the photos by the apparent ages of the children in them.  I spotted clues like missing teeth, hairstyles, height, zits on the face, and braces.  Lucky for me, children change a lot from year to year.  I wonder, do I?  Granted, adults don’t change a great deal in appearance each year unless they lose or gain weight, but there are other ways we can change.  I wonder if we could see ourselves in a spiritual self-portrait every year, would we see an age progression? 

            A pastor once told me that the spiritual journey is an uphill climb – if you are not actively hiking up the mountain, then you are likely sliding down.  If that is true, then my portrait DOES change annually.  Sadly, some years I grow - and some years I shrink. 

            I recently read about a disease called Rett syndrome.  If a child  (usually a girl) is born with this disease, her parents may be totally unaware.  You see, a child with Rett syndrome will often grow and develop normally through certain milestones like sitting up, walking, talking, etc…  But by the time that child reaches toddler years, she will begin to regress.  Children with this disease can lose the ability to walk and talk, and may even become as dependent as they had been in their infancy.  It can be devastating for all involved.  I cannot imagine the pain parents must suffer watching their child slide backward on the developmental scale.  I wonder if it pains God the same way when I “slide backwards.” 

            “Let us stop going over the basics of Christianity again and again. 
              Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding.” 
(Hebrews 6:1 NLT) 

“Crave spiritual milk so that you can grow into the fullness of your 
salvation.”  (I Peter 2:2 NLT)

I am purposing today to climb that mountain!  I want to do all that I can to make sure that my spiritual portrait will show evidence of growth every year from now until eternity.  (But let’s take one year at a time.)

            How can I make this growth happen?  I need to be connecting with God on a regular basis through reading His Word and through prayer.  Big surprise, right?  We’ve all heard this perhaps a thousand times, but if you’re like me, you’ve allowed the pressures of life (and the pleasures of life) to squeeze your God-time out of your schedule again and again.  So, purpose today not to let that happen. 

A.)              Put a plan in place to meet with Him every day for at least 5-10 minutes.  It’s really not rocket science.  For some people it helps to make it the same time every day and even the same place.  It’s up to you.  If you have never read the Bible before, start slow.  Maybe read a Proverb a day or pick a gospel and start working your way through it.  (John is my favorite gospel.) 

B.)              Look for something God wants you to learn.  Here’s an acrostic that may be helpful:  SPEC
S – a sin to avoid (or confess)
P – a promise to claim
E – an example to follow
C – a command to obey

C.)              Write your lesson down and purpose to check back.  See how you are doing in a week or so.

This process has helped me tremendously.  I pray it will help you too.
Just remember that any progress is a good thing!  And, if you slide back a few steps in your climb, don’t beat yourself up.  Just start hiking again.  Remember that the goal is to see growth in your spiritual portrait, so keep at it.  Make your FATHER proud.

*For more suggestions on how to study the Bible for yourself, I recommend Priscilla Shirer's book, Can We Talk? Soul-stirring Conversations with God.

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