On Sunday, my Pastor posed this question from the pulpit, "What do/did you want to be when you grow up?" Hmmm. As I was thinking about it, he said, 'Do you really think the men and women at the Cherry Street Mission planned on being homeless when they were kids? Did a crack addict aspire to be one as a 5 year old? I don't think so. Did the alcoholic tell his parents, 'I can't wait to be addicted to alcohol when I grow up?' No way.
I had always wanted to be a veterinarian. As a child, I adored animals, and they seemed to kind of like me, too. I typically thrived whenever I was around an animal. But a veterinarian? Apparently, that didn't happen, because I don't exactly go to work at a veterinarian's office daily. No, I wound up an accountant. Yikes. Talk about a change of venue. I mean, it's like a totally different person was inside that little girl and smushed out the sweet, caring, veterinarian, and said, 'No. You're going to be a pencil pushing accountant.' What 8 year old would ever really aspire to be an accountant? I can't say that I know of any. Oh, maybe Alex Keaton, from Family Ties, but that's a whole different ball of wax.
We then saw a video of a man talking to another who claimed to be God. "Psst...Remember...back to my story about being in church last Sunday--just in case I was boring you and you had forgotten." And for video purposes, the man was God. OK, it was a rather simple, but effective video skit. The man prayed and prayed, and God was answering his prayer by chiseling away at him. He had a hammer and chisel and would pretend to hammer the chisel around the man's back--thus cutting out 'pride,' 'anger,' 'jealousy,' and more, attempting to make him the man that he was praying to become and the man that God had truly intended him to be. I mean, does anyone ever plan on growing up to with some of the seven deadly sins hanging around his or her neck? I don't think so.
Me, like the man in the video, ultimately wants to become who God wants me to be. I want the Lord to strip away from me anything and everything that would cause me to sin. (OK, Lord. Please leave my family and my job.) But in order to do so, I must be purposeful and intentional; I must take the time, effort and energy to learn to grow in my walk with the Lord. Pastor Caldwell also mentioned that we all come to various forks in the road of life, and depending upon how we view them, they can become opportunities and blessings or destruction and consequences. I mean,we literally choose our destiny.
The question then is really, "What do I want to be Spiritually when I grow up?" Ahh...Now that's an entirely different story. And....what am I going to do to ensure that it happens? To ensure that I am actually become that woman of God that He called me to be. This needs to be a core value, stemming from how much I want to personally want to grow with and in Christ. This is a process, and most likely, a life long one. Pastor mentioned, 'The more I learn about God, the more I know that I do not know.' Wow. Isn't that the truth? The more I learn, the more I realize that I really don't know anything. I learned a long time ago that I should not pray for either patience or humility. Why? Because whenever I would pray for those character qualities, I would suddenly be thrust into situations that would require me to be patient and humble. And...either I would learn that I am not God's material, or I would prove that I still needed some more chiseling.
When I accepted Christ as my Savior, that was only the first step. It was a major first step, and that in and of itself, was quite enough. But to really live for Christ, to center my life around Him, to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, to grow in my relationship with my new-found best friend, it requires a journey, a process. It may take weeks or months, but most likely, it will take years, even decades. Spiritual growth doesn't just happen. If anything, our society works against it happening. Every time I turn on the TV, I am bombarded with images that affront my spiritual growth. When I drive on the freeways (especially I-75 leaving Michigan and entering Ohio) it is the same. In order for my spiritual growth to happen, I must be intentional, purposeful, ever watchful and wanting. I have to want it, crave it. And...I have to be willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
Just as husbands and wives want their relationships to develop, flourish and prosper, so the Lord wants my relationship with Him to do so. It won't just happen overnight. No, just as couples need to communicate daily, work on and alleviate their negative, past behaviors, focus on the positive in each other, crave each other's presence, I need to practice the same behaviors with the Lord. I must crave His presence, through the Word, through prayer, through music, through creation--however, I choose to commune with Him. But....I must do it. As Christians, we must stop talking about it, stop debating it, stop procrastinating about it and just do it.
We may actually have to sacrifice something in order to grow. You may have to turn the TV off a little earlier so that you can read God's letters to you before you go to bed; you may have to set the alarm, and stop hitting the snooze button in the morning, so that you can enjoy His creation with your morning cup of coffee and have a pleasant conversation. You may be called to teach a Bible Study on the only night of the week that you have free. Or cook meals for new parents, even though you may barely have enough to feed yourself. You may need to put dinner on hold while you counsel a frazzled, young mother, get a sitter to visit the homeless or sick, get your hands dirty by helping the widow garden...whatever it is, it may require some sacrifice, and you must be a willing vessel.
But isn't anything truly worthy of God, totally worth whatever it takes to acquire it? Can we possibly put a price on our menial sacrifices in order to get to know God better? Nope. What would you do if you knew that, by doing it, you would have a totally awesome personal relationship with the One Who created the universe? Hmm...Would you climb Mount Everest? Would you swim the deepest ocean or cross the widest sea? Would you be willing to stop complaining? How about not watching various programs on TV? Just what would you do?
How about learning to be quiet and listening to His, still, quiet whisper, and let Him tell you just what to do. He will if you ask Him. He really wants to help you, but you just need to do the asking. Jesus will not push Himself onto anyone, nor will He go where He hasn't been invited. Over the years, I've learned it's really not about me, and it's all about Him. That can be a bummer sometimes. Sometimes, I just want it to be about me. Like when I am ready to go off on the very rude driver in front of me, I have to remember, it's just not about me at all. When I want to scream in frustration because people are not doing the jobs they are being paid to do, I have to remember that it's not about me. It's really about Him inside of me and how I am going to represent Him. Hmmmm...that should make me think twice (or maybe three or four times) before I put my foot into my mouth.
When all is said and done, I really want to become exactly who God wants me to be at this season in my life. When I was young, the Lord called me to be a good daughter, sweet and kind. And then, a great student and friend. Then an excellent employee, wife and then mother. And now...as my children are growing, I see the Lord calling me still to be an excellent employee and mother, but also a great friend to the friendless, and a light in a dark and lonely world. I am sure that there are many other things that the Lord is calling me to be, but I am too tired to think about them or write them.
On a side note, please pray for my Golden Retriever, Sam. He is currently on my living room floor, as sad as can be; he can't move and is dying. Please pray that he is peaceful and not in any pain. I will write about him in tomorrow's blog.
My hope for you is that you seriously consider just who it is that the Lord has called you to be during this season of your life. And then that the Lord gives you the strength and willingness to do whatever it takes to become that person. I heart you all.