During this time of sheltering in place, whether we’re grieving, fighting fear, feeling stuck, or we’re enjoying months in yoga pants, we must ask ourselves, “Am I still growing?” (And I don’t mean in the yoga pants size department). Some of the most painful times in life can be when we’re called to wait, especially waiting in uncertainty or grief. In these times we can often feel like we’re simply in survival mode and merely existing.
There are times when we are grieving that we need to give ourselves grace, but even then, we still grow in our faith and draw close to God. However, I believe in all times God wants us to thrive and grow in Him.
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-3, NLT)
We are planted with deep roots:
This is a picture of our lives as disciples. We don’t get caught up in the craziness of our culture and all the talk. We focus on God’s Word and let it be our nourishment and strength. Our roots grow deep into Truth, and we walk according to what God says. We keep it in the forefront of our minds, especially when we are tempted to fall into hopelessness.
We are watered:
Like the woman at the well, God is offering us living water. We are planted along the riverbank. Living water gives us strength for our souls as we walk through difficult times. It satisfies us during times when we are tempted with dissatisfaction and the desire to complain.
We Bear Fruit:
God’s salvation and His Holy Spirit are at work in our lives daily, helping us to grow in righteousness resulting in our lives bearing fruit. That fruit may include seeing others come to Christ or others grow in Christ, but the main fruit we see should be our growth in Christ. We aren’t just teaching the Word of God to others when we create disciples, we are teaching others what God has helped us to understand and grasp. We are growing and walking with God.
We Thrive and Grow:
We don’t grow weary in doing well or in waiting, but we are renewed daily as we take up our cross and follow Christ. Then we will prosper in all we do. We will grow in wisdom and knowledge as we grow closer to God.
We Are God’s Miracle:
No matter what circumstances we are facing, we must always remember God’s miracles. The greatest miracles in the Bible are not Jesus turning water into wine, walking on water, or calming a storm. They are not that He opened blind eyes to see and made lame men walk. The greatest miracles are first, His resurrection so we can have a thriving, growing, real relationship with our Heavenly Father and the miracle of God turning hearts of stone into living, breathing, spiritually alive hearts beating for Him. It’s not that my physical eyes may have been blind and now I see, but that my spiritual life was dead and is now alive. I was blind to God’s truth, and now His truth lives in me. These are the biggest, most wonderful miracles of God. And these are the miracles that make us able to thrive in any circumstance.
We Have Examples to Encourage Us:
When we look at the disciples, especially Peter, we see such a contrast between when he was following Christ and trying to grasp all that Jesus was teaching them and the man he became once he was filled with the Holy Spirit. Before Pentecost, Peter denied Christ and ran away in fear and shame. He often spoke before thinking and was rebuked by Jesus for the things he said. After Pentecost, Peter was bold in sharing the Gospel and had no fear. He was willing to endure any discomfort or consequence that resulted from his preaching. He could not be stopped. He also became teachable. When Paul rebuked him, he changed his ways. (Matthew 26:31-35, 69-75; Acts 2:40-41, 3:1-12, 4:1-19). Tradition says that Peter died by crucifixion but asked to be crucified upside down because he didn’t feel worthy to be crucified like Christ was. If that’s true, it reveals the deep humility Peter had as opposed to his over-zealous boldness in his early years of following Christ.
As we walk through our circumstances, we should examine our own lives and see if we’ve grown in boldness and humility and Christlikeness. As disciples of Christ we cannot just get through these days but thrive and grow as we live each day in God’s strength, mercy, and grace.
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21, NLT)
Kidlit: Free discipleship lessons for kids can be downloaded here: https://www.lifeway.com/en/articles/free-downloadable-discipleship-studies-for-kids
If you’d like a Bible study that includes lots of activities to choose from while you’re home with your family, check out my Heroes of Faith Six-Week Family Bible Study on David.