This veers off the normal blog post, but these things have been so strong in my life right now, I feel like I should share. God has really been impressing these things on my heart lately, so strong, it's almost like I hear/see something new, every single day that has one of these themes:
1. Your spiritual walk with Christ is a commitment that requires persistent and intentional exercise. God has been showing me this - as a Christian, to be a devoted Christ follower, if you are going to grow and mature in your spiritual walk, it takes persistent, committed and purposeful actions. You won't mature in your spiritual walk by osmosis of spending time in a church building, it won't rub off by spiritually mature people around you, it most likely will not fall into your lap- but rather to be walking in the path that God has designed for your life, on the path where every single day you grow in faith and understand God more and more, you have to work towards that goal. I've often wondered why in the past few years, although I have turned from my old rebellious living, many days I do not feel closer to God, and quite often feeling like I am missing out things God wants for me to do- I feel now that my commitment to the Lord has only been haphazard, unintentional. I believe that while God has been so gracious towards us, and my love for God is so immense, and I pray to God every single day and tell Him how much I love him and thankful I am for everything in my life, because of my lack of commitment to intentionally grow towards Him, I stay stagnant. I always equate the spiritual journey with a journey to health. What I feel like I have been doing is dwelling on how amazing good health and physical exercise is, but then when it comes to the actual work of physical exercise or intentional living out of good health, I fail. The same way, my love & adoration for God is good, but it's time to start moving beyond that, to actively and intentionally pursue the next level with God.
2. God is our Shepherd. I've heard this a million times. But today, it hit me, God is still my Shepherd. When I thought about God the Shepherd, I often think about the lost sheep, that God is calling the unsaved to Him, but today it hit me- that God is our Shepherd and for His sheep (His saved children)- he continues to herd us, to keep us safe, to keep us going in the right direction, to provide for us, and on and on. Because of God, despite not making a committed and intentional effort to move forward in my spiritual walk, God has been the faithful Shepherd and protected me, guided me, provided for me as a caring Shepherd would even where I was for so long, stagnant. I can only imagine God is thinking, if you think this pasture is good- you just wait, if you'd only make the journey to the next place I have for you, and then journey to the place after that!
I often battle my circumstances, the thought of "but I have a fifty hour a week job"... "I'm devoting every second of my spare time after work to spending quality time with my family".... "if I volunteer at church, I'll end up teaching and if I end up teaching it'll take time away from my family"...."if I start a Bible study, it'll take time away from my family".... "if I help other people, it'll take time away from my family".... but after just sucking it up- volunteering again at church and starting a Bible study in my home, I see that these are just a few small steps towards making that intentinonal commitment to grow in Christ- and it's only been several weeks, but I can tell you that God has blessed my time with my family even more. So far it's blessed our family rather than hurt our family. It follows the same unexplainable formula as tithing, even when you "can't afford" to tithe, if you trust God and do it, He provides for you- often times miraculously. If you "can't afford" to make time to "exercise" and grow in your spiritual walk, yet you do, He gives that time back and He is glorified, and you are blessed and you've blessed others and your life is that much better!