Debbie Salter Goodwin
Spiritual Growth for Late Bloomers
I love beautiful gardens. I see the beauty, but not the plan behind it. I wish I could grow something besides straggling stems and yellowed leaves! I want what I plant to burst with color and make beauty.
And I want to do it effortlessly.
If I were to compare my spiritual growth to a plant, it wouldn’t be the early bloomers like crocus or daffodil. They are the first ones up through messy dirt, the first ones to grab the sunshine and let it open blooms and spread fragrance.
No, I’d be a late bloomer, waiting to see if leaving my buried place in the dirt was really a good idea.
I have a feeling I’m writing to other late bloomers like me. So I want to open a conversation about how to let God grow His character and will in us.
Let me be clear from the beginning, for most of us, our desire to grow is not the problem. We wouldn’t go to as many Bible studies, small groups, Sunday school classes, or listen to as many sermons and read as many Christian books if we didn’t want to grow as a Christian.
It’s the how that trips us up.
I’m no expert here. I’m another pilgrim on the journey, but this is the reason I write, speak, and teach. I want to help people engage in an intimate relationship with God in a way that allows them to hear God’s whisper, experience His longing, and treat surrender and obedience as the serious joys God intended them to be.
One of the most important growth principles that I don’t think has been clearly articulated in all the conversations we’ve heard about this subject is an important starting place. Here it is:
Spiritual growth is always a response to God. I don’t initiate it.
While I can set goals to do a lot of things better and reach most of them and become a better person, they don’t always make me more like Christ. They are my goals, usually based on what the voices in my world, even Christian ones, are telling me. Do better, do it faster, do it bigger, make a difference, be more of something you aren’t.
God’s voice is soft, more of a coax than a coercion. He’s the parent wooing His child to take a few awkward steps toward Him. He’s the cheerleader encouraging every try and wanting to make sure that you won’t give up on taking another wobbly step. He doesn’t care what it looks like at first. He rejoices to see the work begun. (Zech. 4:10) He’ll work with you on the fine tuning. He’ll help you know how to make changes as His Spirit prompts you, nudges you, reminds you. This isn’t the do-better/try harder voice we know too well. This is God’s call to become who He created you to be. If you want this growth in your life, you must do it as a response to His invitation.
That doesn’t mean all the other goals we set to order our days and keep our homes and nurture our families and do good in this world are unnecessary. They teach us important practices and God will use them to take us deeper. And when He does, they generate something new that we couldn’t have made happen just through goal setting.
True spiritual growth gets to the center of who God created us to be from the beginning of time, not just from the beginning of our birth. That’s where it must start as God is all about restoring His original purpose for our creation.
Nothing will excite you more than to get a glimpse not only of Who God knows you are, but His generous willingness to take you step by step to become all He knows you can be.
Take this step today with the questions below. Make them your daily prayer. Stop answering them for yourself. Let God share His answers. For when you start hearing God tell you who you are, you’ll know where the work of growth must begin.
Creator God, who have you been trying to tell me I am?
Loving Father, what has kept me from hearing You tell me these things?
Persistent Counselor, what can I do about it today?
Do you have questions about spiritual growth? What has been your hang-ups or challenges? Send me a note or write one in the comment box below. I always write back. Besides, your questions are probably someone else’s question, too. Let’s make this a journey that changes the rest of our lives and let’s do it together!