Spring is finally here!
Everyone around me is rejoicing over its arrival. I, of course, have to be contrary about it. This is not because I don’t enjoy spring but because my whole winter was a spiritual spring. God was giving me spiritual growth and frankly, I quite enjoyed it.
And I want you to enjoy it too.
So, naturally, I thought that the first day of spring would be the perfect time to share some tips for bringing spiritual growth to your life! I set out to put my earth shattering insights into an informative and challenging post.
After an embarrassingly long time, and several frustrating revisions, I remembered something very important:
There is not a single tip I can give you for generating spiritual growth.
Because we can’t make growth happen.
Most of us, including myself, like to believe that we can renew ourselves; cause ourselves to grow. When we feel obligated to become more godly, we design a growth plan for ourselves involving all manner of spiritual disciplines and programs. Feeling guilty that we don’t pray enough? Schedule more daily prayer time. Don’t know scripture very well? Buy a new book or join a new study.
Unfortunately, we often fail at the very thing we’re trying to grow into. We get frustrated because, after a time, we’re back to fighting our will and desires, which are the same as they ever were. We tried so hard to grow. And we failed.
Because only God can make things grow.
When we plant a seed, we know the conditions must be conducive to growth, so we water and fertilize and pull out nearby weeds. But these things don’t cause growth. And we know we can’t make it grow. We just tend it. And we wait.
Growth is totally out of our control.
Spiritual growth is the same. We tend to our spiritual lives by watering with the Word and pulling out life-choking sin. We do these things because it’s the mysterious way God designed for us to faithfully prepare for growth.
Growth that only he can author.
So, we may plant seeds with the intention of growing flowers….
…but God grows roots first.
Because growth comes according to his plan, not our will.
Spiritually speaking, we might decide we need growth in certain areas like our prayer life, or Bible study. These are good things, but God has a plan for our growth. Our job is to tend faithfully. Then welcome new growth – in whatever form it takes.
Last fall, I made some changes in the way I did some of my “tending.” I thought these were wise, given the goals I had for this ministry. Disciplined tending is always necessary, but it didn’t give me control over my growth.
The growth God gave was in neither my writing nor my outreach.
The growth was in my prayer life.
Not what I was going for.
Flowers, God! I was trying to grow FLOWERS!
Apparently, God was more interested in roots.
God may still grow this ministry, but after a spring’s worth of prayer growth, I’m thoroughly enjoying the new roots he’s provided! God will use them later to support more growth of some other kind.
In honor of spring’s arrival, keep tending to your spiritual life with faithful prayer, committed study of the Word, aggressive sin-removal, and fellowship with other believers. But using these to force growth becomes burdensome. Do them for no other reason than to faithfully tend the seed.
Water. Wait. Repeat.
The growth is up to God.
And spring is always coming. 😉
I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:6,7
(Stayed tuned. Next week I’m going to talk about one indicator that God is growing something in you… and how you can join him in it!)