Some may wonder why I am focusing on the topic of spiritual maturity. This is not an easy question to answer.
Perhaps the obvious reason is because most people get to a point in their lives when they realize that the future they had always envisioned and pursued for themselves and their family simply is not going to happen. Or, unexpected painful, even tragic events occur and knock us sideways. These situations can hit us hard. Often we find our faith is challenged. It can feel like something is being done to us. We wonder where God is in the midst of the pain and suffering. We want to fix what is wrong, get back on track, and move forward with our life plans once again. However, this often does not happen. So, the next question is. . . Why? And the now what? question is not far behind.
An article in the Wall Street Journal on September 17, 2015 (pg. A13) written by Naomi Schaefer Riley, in reviewing a new book by David Gregory, How's Your Faith, (Simon & Schuster) caught my attention. Naomi begins her article with a quote from Gregory's book, presenting two typical questions frequently posed to Russell Moore, a pastor:
"Everything I have ever wanted has fallen apart. Now What?" and "Everything I've ever wanted has come true. Now what? This cant be what I was put on the earth for."
These quotes caught my attention because they are echoes of the heart-level angst and longing for so many people. And for Christians, they represent the kind of life circumstances that can send us on a deeper search for God. . . if we are willing to walk that path.
I chuckled when I read those quotes because they are simply so typical of people who are being nudged to go deeper, to search for more of God and more in life. I must confess, however, that I have heard many more varieties of the first question than the second.
Life will eventually takes us all to this place where our expectations prove to be less than satisfying, and we begin to look around for "something more." Or... what? What is it we are really searching for?
I suggest that, whether or not we are aware of it, we are all looking for purpose and meaning for our lives. For those who are Christians, when life circumstances are painful - the loss of a job, a failed marriage, death of a person close to us, etc., - we have a choice about which lens we will look through to try and gain understanding and firm ground under us once again. We can, as is often the case, simply look through the world lens. But what we see does not usually instill hope for our future. Rather, hopelessness is often what we see. Or. . . we can choose to look through the spiritual lens, the Kingdom of God lens, to attempt to see what God might be doing in our current circumstances, and to hear what God is saying to us in the midst of pain and loss.
My experience has been that it is in the most painful and difficult times in life when God is most interested in conveying to us his unfailing love, and to demonstrate to us that he does, indeed have plans for us. . . plans for welfare and not for harm, to give us a future, with hope (Jer 29:11, paraphrased). In my own life, it is in those times of despairing pain that I find hope in the promise, and over time find that God is indeed faithful.
It is a step of spiritual maturity to choose to see life's events, especially the most difficult ones, through the lens of the Kingdom of God. It takes courage to believe in the face of questionable circumstances that God is carrying out his perfect plan for our lives, and that his love for us underscores absolutely everything he is doing in our lives.
This is the road that Christians are invited to walk, hand-in-hand with God, gaining stronger faith that enables us to trust more and more of ourselves into his loving hands. This is the road of transformation into the likeness of Christ; this is the road that leads to spiritual maturity.
This is the road that I live, and write about.