Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Purpose Driven Life - Day 28

Day 28 - It Takes Time

Fruit does not ripen overnight. It takes time to develop it's characteristics - to the perfect time for picking. If you picked a fruit before it was ready, it would be bitter - the sweetness takes time to blossom.  The fruit of the Spirit is no different. You have found Christ. You have declared your belief in Him. Fantastic! But to achieve full spiritual maturity is a process - a life-long process.  

Consider when you were conceived. You were basically a dot. It took 40 weeks for you to develop blood vessels, limbs, eyes, ears, hair, fingers, toes, your DNA, your heart, lungs, bones ...  and all of the other parts that were present when you were finally born.  Then you had to learn to open your eyes, hold your head up, cry when you were hungry, when you needed to be changed, wanted to be picked up. Then some months passed and you discovered that you had feet! You learned how to creep ... then crawl ... stand.... and finally walk. Life is a process. Growth is a process. Such as it is with your spiritual development. 

It is also about perspective. My Goddaughter in grade 1 decided that she no longer needed to go to school because she knew everything.  Well, for the 1st grade - she did have it pretty much covered ... but her 1st grade understanding did not have the capacity to recognize that there were many more grades ahead of her, filled with information that she did not yet know. The same is true when we are at the beginning - or even the middle of our journey to becoming spiritually mature. We think we have the concepts down ...we serve God, we obey the commandments, we have read the Bible ... so we've arrived!  Not so much! Remember that what you see and what God sees is not even on the same radar. And like Dr. Phil says - you don't know what you don't know.  It is only after you have learned it that you realize how little you knew prior.

Pastor Rick reminds us that as humans we often must re-learn the same lessons 40 or 50 times before we 'get it' ... and until such time arrives that we do indeed 'get it' .... God will continue to teach that same lesson over and over and over again.  Have you found yourself in a situation where you say to yourself "I can't believe I did ______ again!!"  - Well ... you are a slow learner and God will keep going over the lesson until you stop repeating the mistakes.  Then it is on to the next lesson.  And so on ... 

In addition to learning the new lessons, we need to also shed our old beliefs, habits and thoughts we had about what we believed to be true.  We cannot put on our 'new self' before we shed the 'old self'. This is also a process. How difficult is it to break old habits. To unlearn old beliefs.  People can spend years in therapy just 'unlearning' what they were taught growing up.  What people have told you about yourself that you accepted as the truth. Your parents, or teachers, an old boss, friends, siblings ... what you have told yourself ... what Satan has told you.  All of this baggage needs to be disposed of. 

In order to develop new character traits you must get rid of the old ones. This can be a tricky thing. Before you can get rid of them - you have to identify them.  Really examine ourselves ... this can sometimes be an unpleasant journey. And often times we are fearful of what we will see - and may not even want to admit due to shame.  Remember that God already knows all of your traits. You need to examine yourself and discover what you do not like - then change it.  Some people can spend years in therapy doing this as well.

Developing new habits also takes time. Pastor Rick examples this by saying if a husband is faithful to his wife most of the time - then he is not faithful at all.  Your character is defined by the sum total of your habits, and you can only claim something is a habit if it is habitual ... selective kindness is not kindness. Selective mercy is not merciful. Practice and repetition is key. Paul tells Timothy; "Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress."  

Perhaps what is most important is to remember that slow and steady wins the race. Don't allow yourself to negative-talk yourself down from your journey. Be patient and know that God is patient and that He is cheering you on! Stop focusing on how far you have left to journey - but smile on how far you have already come! 

"God began doing a good work in you, and I am sure He will continue it  until it is finished when Jesus Christ comes again." - Philippians 1:6 (NCV)

And this concludes the 3rd Purpose. 
Tomorrow we will begin to examine purpose #4: You Were Shaped For Serving God.

Love and Light, Friend!