The one “Must-Have” for real spiritual growth

 

Horns honk and buses emit poisonous fumes into the already polluted air as I hustle two children into the back of the taxi. We fight traffic all the way into town, cars backed up in ways possible only for a city home to 14 million people. After an hour and a half in the bouncing, swerving taxi, we finally arrive at the doctor’s office.

The young doctor calls us back and I explain to him why we are here. Little Bit has only grown 2 cm in the last 9 months. At almost six years old, she should be sprouting like a root, growing like a weed. She isn’t. Her growth has plateaued and prior tests say she’s got the bone age of a three year old. She’s not producing a growth hormone called IGF-1.

“We just really need to know what’s going on,“ I tell the doctor. What is behind this stunted growth? Is it genetic? Neurological? Biological? And do we treat it with synthetic hormones?

The question nags us: How can we get her to grow?

As long as our approach to living the Christian life is a stack of how-to books on the bedside table, a study of Christian should’s and to-do’s, we will never see the growth we are desirous of, the growth we know is possible. Grace = growth. Does your life need a new orientation -- the orientation of grace? Join me for this new series about growing in grace.

The doctor orders more tests. “This is complicated and there aren’t easy answers,” he tells me. In other words, this may be a very long journey.

We get home from the doctor and hang up jackets. I‘m tired. Shadows fall. The day is mostly gone and it is time for me to start dinner. I wonder if I’m making the most of my time, my life. Shuttling in taxis, sorting socks, checking homework, sharing Christ however I can… am I really making a difference?

My thoughts turn dark. At this point in my Christian life, I should have more spiritual authority in my life, I reason. I should carry a sense of spiritual blessing, spilling over onto others who pass my way. With so many lost and dying around me, and me having Living Water? I think about in my own home. I should be much slower to anger. My words should more often be a fountain of grace and life. My vision should be much greater, my faith more compelling, more transferable.

It strikes me, an unwanted chord: Could it be that I’m a spiritual Little Bit? I’ve plateaued. My spiritual growth is stunted and what is behind it?

I throw ingredients together in the Dutch oven and while the soup simmers and the bread bakes, I open a book. It’s what people like me do… between stirring the soup and setting the table, I read words. The book was randomly selected, so the words I read astonish me:

“I speak to you as babes in Christ.”

“We find in the Corinthians simply a condition of protracted infancy. It is quite right that at six months of age a babe should eat nothing but milk; but years have passed by and it remains in the same weakly state. Now this is just the condition of many believers. We come in contact with them and there is none of the beauty of holiness or of the power of God’s Spirit in them.”

You have had the gospel so long that by this time you ought to be teachers, and yet you need that men should teach you…” Hebrews 5:12

Andrew Murray, The Master’s Indwelling

 

Soup simmers and children play and I do believe the words found their target in me. The Word becomes the physician, pinpointing the problem, giving the reason for my protracted infancy: “You’ve had the gospel…yet…”

Yes. For many years I’ve possessed what Paul describes as “the power of God.” It is no impotent thing. Yet does it lay un-used, un-applied in my daily living out?  Is it really the power of God, say, for my speech? My witness? My vision and faith? My parenting and wifery and intimacy? Is the gospel taken up…ingested… to the nourishment and growth of soul bones?

Can I really say the gospel is the power of God in my every day, moment to moment living?

Or have I relegated the gospel as beneficial primarily for the lost?

I reel. Do I even know what I’m doing?

When did I revert to the subtle ways of duty-living the Christian life instead of gospel-living it? When did my approach to the Christian life become a stack of Christian how-to books on the bedside table? An endless list of opinions and workbooks and should do’s and to do’s and empty guarantees?

The Word speaks again and I remember. Words spoken by Peter, one who grew in spurts and plateaus and flat-on-face falls. Yes, give me Peter. “Grow in Grace…” he instructed his readers.

And burly Peter takes me aside and speaks it plain. “It’s like this,” he says. “Grace = Growth.”  I admit it means something coming from one who knew a thing or two about the ups and downs, the ins and outs, the failures and successes of walking the Christ life.

Is not our struggling to live the Christian life really this, the struggle to embrace grace, in its moment by moment delivery?

The world can only relate to us in terms of the law, a system of earning and securing. It’s a system of working and achieving and proving our worth. It’s the way employers relate with employees and parents relate with children and the government with its citizens. Sadly, it is frequently how we function in the church, as believing people, this trial and error system of finding out what formula produces the most results.

But God offers an entirely different system of relating. He offers grace.

While the world presses us to relate according to its terms and conditions, God says it simple:  “Grow in Grace.” This is the gospel. The gospel is in fact the grace of God. {Acts 20:24} And we never outgrow our desperate, pressing need for daily grace.

And as long as our approach to living the Christian life is a stack of how-to books on the bedside table, a study of Christian should’s and to-do’s, we will never see the growth we are desirous of, the growth we know is possible.

Grace = Growth. Thank you very much, Peter.

I’m thinking my life needs a new orientation, the orientation of grace.

This has been brewing inside for some time and it’s ready to find expression, this orientation of grace, this power-of-the-gospel living. So we begin a new series here on living from the orientation of grace.

It’s the way to spiritual growth. And what better day to start growing than today? 

Want hands-on help to grow in Grace? Check out my BRAND NEW resource, Grace Goals. This bundle of 5 mini workshops and accompanying printables will help you work in conjunction with God’s Spirit to accomplish change and achieve goals in your life. Find out more about Grace Goals here.

Do you long for real spiritual growth in your life? Scripture tells us there is one requirement for spiritual growth. Click over to find out what it is... it may surprise you!

All posts in the “Grace” Series:

The One Must Have for Spiritual Growth

For Those Not Good Enough

Eating Grace

The Grace Feast

Becoming a Disciple of Grace

 

 

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23 Comments

  1. Thank you. Many of these thoughts have a pondered myself. I look forward to moving back to gospel living. This hits home.

  2. I’m going to tell you something a dear friend told me that made a world of difference.

    Do not sell short what you are doing here at Arabah Joy. You reach more people in a week with your Spirit filled words right here than many pastors do in their brick and mortar churches. I totally get where you are, however, do not let Satan convince you that you are ineffective or not growing. Don’t give Satan that power. You ARE making a difference for the kingdom.

  3. Thank you. You have such a way with words. You are able to express something that has been stirring in me for a while and I just have not known how to verbalize what it was. There is that deep longing that there is something more than what my day-to-day life has become. I have been grasping for it, looking for it, and desperately asking the Lord what it is that I am missing. I agree with Leah’s post above. I believe that you are Spirit filled and it does flow out of you on this blog. However, I believe that sometimes we know in the pit of who we are that there is so much more than where we are currently. There is so much more of our infinitely abundant God. There are more mountains to climb with Him to see and experience more of His Glory in our lives and the lives of those we touch. Thank you for being a part of helping me seek His face and glory!

  4. My niece shared this blog with me – it is just what I needed to read, today. I’m reminded of a hymn I used to sing when I was younger: “Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that will pardon and cleanse within. Grace, Grace, God’s grace – grace that is greater than all our sin.” You were used of the Lord today in my life. Thank you for being a channel of blessing.

  5. Arabah,
    What a wonderful post. You certainly hit the point on the head when you asked: When did I revert to the subtle ways of duty-living the Christian life instead of gospel-living it?
    I have been studying Experiencing God by Blackaby – much spiritual growth has occurred. Watching, waiting and seeing where God leads me.
    Grace to you today,
    Blessings,
    Janis

  6. Hi! I’ll be checking back for this series–really appreciated the Complete one! i really identified with your thoughts about ‘shuttling in taxis, sorting socks…” I am in a similar life situation to you–a mom with a sea of unreached, drowning folks outside our door. asking Him to do huge things inside me, our marriage, our family, and outside as well. thanks for writing, and for your free content!

  7. Pingback: Eating Grace
  8. I’m starting this series a little bit behind. I took a week totally off the computer in order to focus on the very thing you are speaking of here. There was a wise older woman in my church who told me more than once: “Preach the gospel to yourself every day”. I didn’t get it. The fog is lifting, and I am starting to see through the haze now, and it’s scary. Can I really LIVE this way? What does that look like? I’ve been trying to earn my way as a Christian for so long. I’ve been reading the book Because He Loves Me by Elyse Fitzpatrick, and it fits right in with all of this. Thank you for a timely series, and I look forward to reading more.

  9. Pingback: The Grace Feast
  10. Good morning, Arabah! Yes, this is an older blog post from last year, but it was exactly what I needed this morning. Thank you, dear lady, for all you do for the Kingdom! May you be richly blessed by the Father in a million ways today! :)

  11. Amen. Daily Grace. Your words are so powerful. I’m part of the Christian Mom Blog Support and I’m so glad I stopped by. I look forward to exploring more of your site.

  12. I read the verse in Acts 20:24 and grace is what we need, that and God’s word. I got back from a day retreat in a little town outside of the big city I live in which was a break away from all the rush and everyone in a hurry. Not long enough, should have been for the whole weekend. Our Rector, Father Chip, came out for the beginning to talk to us and give us some things to think about. I asked him about Matthew Henry, who is my “go to” person when I need to get a perspective from someone else when I’m studying something. And he told me “always go to the Bible” first and that’s why we have concordance’s. Anyway, he is right and I don’t read my Bible enough but I have tons of books about Christian subjects and they fill the entire bookcase and will take me about at least 3 years. I’m so glad I found your blog Arabah and it was totally by accident actually, well I was looking to see where I could buy your book “Praying the Promises of God Prayer Journal. I’ve been working on putting together my own. I’m going to follow along with you and read the Promises Daily. I don’t live anyplace exotic like Asia, I live in Texas in the US and was born here and only moved away 10 years to Montana and Arizona and came home. Anyway, I have two children a boy and a girl, rather a man and a woman. Also I have 7 grandchildren but I don’t look or act like a matronly grandmother at all. I guess inside is still a woman in her early 30’s at the latest. But I love the Lord more than anything as he saved my life several times when I went the bad times in my life, I will quit talking and get started on day one tomorrow, thank you so much Arabah I can’t wait to get to know you and study God’s word with you. God bless and keep you full of energy for your children.

  13. So TRUE!! Well said, Arabah! This is such an important truth. In order for us to have true victory in our spiritual growth, we have to be willing to get back up when we fall short. God’s grace is sufficient and “in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9

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