Spiritually speaking, I am 25 years old. In 1992 when I turned my heart over to God, I was just a twelve-year-old following the Holy Spirit's leading. I didn't know anything about authentic spiritual growth or how to be intentional in my walk with God.
By nature I am a rule follower. Tell me the parameters and I will follow them to the point of insanity.
Wear these clothes...
Listen to this music...
Say these words when you pray...
Read the Bible like this...
Do this...don't do this...
At a young age I believed these were the only markers of spiritual growth. Mature Christians follow these rules. Right?
Another one of these rules is: Don't ever get divorced.
Unfortunately, I am divorced. Many of you know that I had no say in this abrupt and permanent decision. God allows His children to make choices, and some are left behind searching for ways to survive the most epic of losses. Wading through grief like it's the deepest, vastest ocean in the world. But through this scorching refining process, I soon realized what an immature Christian I was.
Marks of my spiritual immaturity:
1. I was impatient with God: I insisted that He fix this problem- immediately. I petitioned Him often in a demanding, give-me-what-I-want-or-else voice. I've heard this voice often as an elementary teacher. It's the one where a student resists building classroom community and insists that life is all about "me" and what I "need".
2.I took Scripture out of context: I was convinced that God would not allow this evil thing to happen me because I interpreted these verses incorrectly:
Psalm 91:9-10: Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—the Most High, who is my refuge no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent.
1 Corinthians 10:13: No testing has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your ability, but with the testing he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Certainly God was my refuge, so nothing bad could happen to me: a faithful Christian and pastor's wife. I had always heard that He wouldn't give me more than I could handle, and a divorce would certainly break me. So logically, this divorce wasn't happening.
3. I was satisfied with the identity I had assigned to God: I viewed God through rose-colored glasses. Good, loving, present, wise, holy, and faithful were attributes of my God. Never did I entertain the idea that He is also a just God who allows unjust acts to occur. Because our world is broken and sinful, God endures rejection by His people every day. Because He is a God of patience and love, He does not force His children to make right decisions. In my reeling mind, I believed that God would persuade my husband to come home because I was praying enough and God was loving enough to do this for me. A genie in a bottle.
All of these faulty beliefs were the result of my immature relationship with God. When I finally faced the reality that I was, in fact, divorced, I had to look much more closely at my immature attitude. It was time to decide how I was going to live my life with God.
Ephesians 4:13-16- Until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature womanhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ...
I was ready to stop being thrown around in the waves of false doctrine. The days of drinking milk had to stop. The only way to claw my way up to the surface was to start feeding myself with the meat my spiritual soul desired.
For the past five years I've been intentional about my spiritual growth. I've made my relationship with God a priority. I can't say that I've arrived or that I'm anywhere near "mature womanhood", but as Paul would say, I'm pressing toward the mark. I'm still running the race. And it's not the same race I was in before. It's not showy and flashy. It's not external and for the people, it's in the deepest places where God looks. Spiritual maturity is a heart thing.
By God's grace I'm not the girl I was. I'm growing up. Maturing. Trusting. Loving. Guiding. Grateful.
If you missed the first two posts in the series on Spiritual Growth, check them out: