Time to Grow Up Part 2: Beyond Bible Reading
In March of 2011 I was just your average Bible college graduate. Married to a youth pastor for nine years. Leading Bible studies. Mentoring teenage girls. Encouraging the parents of teens. Criteria for a youth pastor's wife? Check. I was perfectly unaware that my faith was shallow. My predominately legalistic world view gave me the peace of mind that all was well. I was doing all of the things I was supposed to do.
Make disciples? Check.
Read the Bible? Check.
Pray every day. Check.
Encourage the youth pastor? Check.
Go to church three times a week? Check. Check. Check.
Walking through a spiritual fog can have dire consequences when the mist abruptly clears, and you find out you've been on autopilot for far too long.
The book of Hebrews includes some harsh, and very direct words for people drowning in the sea of do this, and this, and then God will be pleased.
Hebrews 5:11-14 (ESV)- About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since she is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Ouch. The writer is saying: Hey dummy. You're so far out in left field that you have reverted back to a childlike state of faith. You can't even handle the meat of adults because all you're capable of is drinking milk like a baby. Your power to see has been diminished by your lack of skill with God's Word, your lack of contact with the Holy Spirit, and your total lack of maturity.
That's painful stuff. Somehow it seems that God doesn't want this behavior to go unchecked.
Serving in a ministry capacity does not ensure an authentic, communicative relationship with God.
Being the youth pastor's wife does not guarantee that my discernment powers were up to par.
Going through motions does not make one grow in righteousness. In fact, it may cause you to regress to an immature state of faith.
So now what?
Shake your head. Wipe away that fog surrounding your blind eyes. Blink. Blink. Blink some more.
Let us remember Peter. Going through the motions, Peter was one of the twelve disciples. He thought he was a faithful, mature follower of Christ. He observed miracles left and right, even walked on water with Jesus, and yet in the end Peter's faith wasn't strong enough to keep him from denying Christ three times. At that moment Peter woke up. He shook that fog from his eyes and wept bitterly knowing he had betrayed his God. (Matthew 26:75) Peter served God wholeheartedly for the rest of his life. Tradition states that he died in an upside down crucifixion; not willing to be put to death in the same fashion as his Jesus was.
Let's do this:
Wake up- If you're meandering around in a fog feeling like all of those things you DO are bringing God glory- just stop it. See your weak, child-like commitment? It's time to eat meat. It's time to engage. Ask yourself, "Why am I doing this? Is it for God or is it for me?" Am I able to discern between service for service sake, and actual heart-serving in ways that are stretching and growing my faith?
See God for who He really is- Peter saw Jesus for the Savior that He is to each one of us. 2 Peter 3:18- "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." This was Peter's parting wish for God's people. GROW. Not just to grow- but in knowledge of WHO our Lord is. Study this out. Our Lord is holy, trustworthy, incomprehensible, eternal, sovereign, perfect, God over all. (Check out the book: None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different From Us by Jen Wilkin.)
Be Intentional- If we want to grow beyond the "milk only" stage, we have to be intentional about our own growth. Maybe some of these things:
A small group of women to talk about spiritual growth with. How have we grown recently? How do we plan to grow in the months ahead? A book study? A Bible memory challenge?
Be intentional in your Bible reading. What is the point of growth that God is pushing in this passage? Don't just read- study!!
I'm not great at goal setting, I know teachers should be better at it, but I'm not! Perhaps goals are best for you. If so, set some goals and work towards them.
Ultimately it's your story over time that will show the growth, rather than using your actions as the only measuring stick. I wouldn't even begin to say that my ministry as a youth pastor's wife was completely unfruitful or worthless in any way. But I wasn't aware of my disengagement. My lack of deep growth towards a more Christ-like me. I wasn't seeing the big picture.
Be alert. Be engaged. Monitor growth and seek it out through knowing Him more. It will make all the difference!
Next week: Part 3- A Time to Grow Up: What Does "Mature in Christ" Really Look Like?