I have spent a lot of time recently listening to God speak to me through my journaling. The focus has been a call to dig deeper into scripture. So... I've been digging!

I continue to marvel at how God speaks to me through scripture. Two days ago he took me to 2 Kings 12:1-12. . . not a passage I have often read, nor would I expect to find in it a message applicable to my own life!  However, as I read through the passage, certain verses popped out at me, and I noticed a quickening of my spirit within.  It seemed there was a message for me in those verses!  I sat quietly to see if anything definitive would surface.  As I listened, I sensed there was a hint of a promise from God to me.  I will let that promise sit loosely in my hand, trusting that if it is indeed from God, he will fulfill it in his time.

As I continued to ponder this passage, I noticed that King Jehoash asked the priests in the temple to use some of the money that came into the temple to repair the house of the Lord.  And yet, (apparently) years later, nothing had been done.*  So, the king took the job away from the priests and gave it to workers with the necessary skills to complete the necessary repairs. And he ordered some of the money that came into the temple to be given to those workers.

In light of this passage, I understood from a different perspective that in post-resurrection times, the "house of the Lord" is each believer.  The presence of Jesus Christ, in the form of his Holy Spirit, resides within each of us; we are the "house of the Lord."

For the past few months, God has been speaking to me more about the call to ministry that he has given me.  The essence of this passage serves as a confirmation of my call, and has shed new light on what that ministry is: as a spiritual director and spiritual mentor, my ministry is one of rebuilding the house of the Lord, one believer at a time.  I am called to walk with others as they seek deeper intimacy with God, and thus grow toward spiritual maturity.  I was touched by the specificity of this passage to my ministry, and loved receiving a new perspective on this work that I do.  I now see myself as a carpenter - one who works in partnership with God to rebuild that which has been damaged by the hardships of life and that which has been inflicted upon us by the enemy our our souls. Additionally, according to this passage, I trust that God will provide appropriate income to meet my needs from other sources as I engage in a ministry that does not bring in an income.

God can and will speak to us through his word about any issue in our lives, if we will simply listen.  We do this by spending time in the word regularly, with an open heart, asking the Lord to speak to us as we read. He never fails to speak to me through his word when I ask him to do so - and sometimes he speaks even when I am not expecting it.

He is an amazing God!

 

*Scripture is not clear how many years transpired.

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.

The journey toward spiritual maturity encompasses many different topics. Perhaps the most fundamental reality is that this journey is all about knowing experientially God's love for us. Spiritual maturity - demonstrated by our willingness to surrender control of our lives to God, to surrender our plans in exchange for his plans for us - seems to leap forward with each new realization of the truth of God's love. ...continue reading "God’s Love for Us"

In my life-long journey with God, I have come to understand that our relationship with God emerges over time as a dance. At first we try to deny that a dance is necessary, or even possible, so we go it alone (so we think). Then, when we realize that we are not alone on this journey, we try to lead - to tell God what to do and how to do it - only to stumble because of our own efforts.  If we persevere long enough, we discover that we are, indeed, in the midst of a dance with the creator of the universe and the true lover of our soul.  But we were never designed to lead this dance.  Rather, we are made and called to follow as he leads.  It's only when we surrender to this truth that we begin the journey toward spiritual maturity.  This blog is about that journey.