When I was a little girl, I remember thrashing in the bed because of the growing pains in my legs. Maybe they were made worse by a long summer day of playing outside, or maybe I was just low on potassium. My memory on the subject is dim, but I do know the leg cramps were miserable.
Yes, growth hurts. And we never quite reach an age where the growing stops, or we shouldn’t anyway. It just becomes less of a physical growth, and more of an emotional and spiritual one. Still, growth becomes no less painful.
Only dead things stop growing.
I have a house full of plants that require my ongoing time, attention and nurturing. When I water my plants, I carefully pull away the dead leaves. To fail to do so would cause the plant to spend unnecessary energy trying to repair parts that no longer contain life.
Sometimes personal growth requires me to be carefully pruned. To really experience growth means some things in me need to die so that I may fully live the abundant life that Jesus planned when he died for me.
Jesus was never confused about His mission and purpose on this side of Heaven.
He had a laser focus on God's Kingdom, and didn’t get distracted with the opinion of others. Defending himself or spending time quarreling over things that didn't matter in light of eternity rarely happened.
Jesus knew His mission was to move into the lives of those around Him. To give them a glimpse of the Father they had never seen before. To allow them to peek into the window of the world to come. A world where darkness will be overthrown. Where there will be no more tears or pain, and the lion will lay down with the lamb. (See Isaiah 11:6-9 and Revelation 21:1-4)
Here’s the hard part. Jesus also knew that His mission was to die so that you and I would be allowed to fully live. So what in the world would make me think that following Him is never going to cost me anything? There is nothing further from the truth.
It will cost me my own stubbornness at times. It will cost me laying down my pride. It will ask that I learn to admit when I’m wrong and to ask for forgiveness. It will mean I must admit that I don’t know everything and that I’m still learning. It means I don’t get to just say or do anything that I want to.
We can’t have it both ways. We don’t get to play in the graveyard of the person we were before we met Jesus, AND also have a garden blooming with new life, evidence of His work in us.
John 10:10 says this, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."
This walk of following Jesus is going to cost me something. In fact, it will cost me everything. And on the other side of my death to self is the life I never imagined!
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
Many of the most painful seasons of my life have also held tremendous growth in my trust and dependence on the Lord.
The Lord's desire and intention is never to leave me in a thwarted state in my emotional and spiritual growth. Instead, the Lord wants me mature and grow into a reflection of Jesus.
Psalm 34:8 says, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." After walking with the Lord and experiencing His joy, wisdom, protection and peace, I have learned to more quickly surrender the trials and difficulties that life throws my way. Because of Him, I have "tasted" and experienced His goodness many times over.
Death to myself and my own way has become easier because I have learned to trust that the Lord's way is so much better; that He can be trusted to love and guide me always.
Thank you, Lord, for paying the highest sacrifice a person can pay because you believed that I was worth it. I invite you to prune the areas of my heart and life that need to be trimmed away. Keep my always focused on you. Amen.
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