Growing up and being discipled

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” How many times do you suppose you, as a child, were confronted with that question?

Surely sensible adults know that a child of five or six or even ten does not have a clear idea of what it means to be “grown up,” much less of “what” he or she wants to be as an adult. Yet the question keeps popping up, perhaps because it opens a window into a child’s mind. From the answers, we learn what lights the imagination, dreams, and excitement of that child.

Child of God, what do you want to be when you grow up? What image are you holding as your ideal? To what do you aspire? What attracts and excites and inspires you?

We know that for anyone to grow up and become the person of their childhood (or adult!) dreams, training is involved. To be a doctor, that five-year-old will need to persevere through rigorous years of study and hands-on training. To be a gardener, hands must meet dirt, and secrets of growing things must somehow be absorbed through work of one’s own and study of others’ work. To be an Olympian, utter devotion to coaching, hard work, and discipline must prevail. To be a mommy or a daddy, a person must grow up in practical nurturing and love. No matter what dream a child holds, there’s growing up to be done—through knowledge, guidance, and experience.

And most of us have discovered that no matter our age, there’s still a little more growing up to be done.

For us, brothers and sisters in God’s family, there’s also growing up to be done. Whether we’re two years in the family or fifty-two years in the family, we still have growing up to do.

And here is where the analogy breaks down.

Because as children of God, we can answer the question of “what” we want to be when we’re grown up with an answer you’ve probably never heard from a child:

“I want to be perfect. I want to be complete.”

The children of God can say this? Yes, the children of God can say this. We can hold this hope as our ambition and our ultimate goal.

It’s radical. But we base this on our Father’s promise: He is daily growing us toward that perfection. This dream of ours is in the works. We hold the hope that someday this process will be complete and perfect, but God has already started the process! He is carefully fashioning His masterpiece in whatever happens in your life today!

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A question has been prowling around my days for some time now: Under whose tutelage have I been studying?

These thoughts were prompted by Keith Ferrin’s quote of Michayla White, Executive Director of International Network of Children’s Ministry. She said: “If you’re reading it regularly, looking at it regularly, and listening to it regularly, you’re being discipled by it.”

I am becoming every day, growing into, moving toward, being discipled. The question is, Who am I following?

What am I reading regularly?

What am I looking at regularly?

What am I listening to regularly?

Who is discipling me?

God lives with His children, here to help us grow up into the plan He’s had for His people from the very beginning. His Spirit is within us to teach us, guide us, and produce His wisdom and fruit.

(That’s amazing, isn’t it? God doesn’t stand off in heaven somewhere, issuing edicts and then observing, keeping record of how we’re doing, and judging… No, He is living right here with us, working on His new creation and masterpiece—the new you and the new me.)

But we know that the enemy of our souls always works against what the Spirit wants to do within us. We can expect that. And he works in some of the most sinister and cunning ways. None of us would claim to be disciples of Satan, but what things in our lives is Satan using to disciple us in ways opposing God’s plan—and we’re allowing it?

God has given us a choice in who we follow. And the one who disciples us is the one who is guiding our “growing up.”

I am still growing up as God’s child. But I know “what” I want to be:

Letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.
Romans 8:6

The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23

 

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PROMISE: The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” (Psalm 32:8)

MORE: Romans 8:5-13; Galatians 5:16-26;

 

 

 

News!

My friend!

Something has happened.

I’m writing this with my thoughts tumbling, one over another. So far, I only know bits and pieces, but the news has flooded my heart and mind with great expectation and hope.

Yesterday the grapevine sizzled with rumors that the teacher from Nazareth is alive. Again!

I know, I know. It sounds like something only a fool would believe. I could not believe it either, until I talked with one man who actually walked and talked with him. And I tell you, that man is changed in a way I’ve never seen before.

You see what this means? If the teacher has really beaten death, if the power of God can defeat our most relentless enemy, and if that power is in this world and working for those who follow this man…

That changes everything!

I wanted you to know.

 

Questions

Dear Friend,

Yesterday was a long, dark Sabbath. I confess I felt as though there was no point at all in observing the Sabbath. God seems to have abandoned us.

If this teacher truly was sent from God, why would God allow such an awful ending to his life? Why cut him off before he had accomplished his mission? What about all those promises God made us?

Or perhaps this wasn’t the one we have been waiting for. Or perhaps… perhaps God has changed his mind.

I was just beginning to hope this man could change the world. Could change our lives. MY life. We couldn’t help but hope, as we listened to his words. He was introducing us to God in a completely new way. At least, I thought I was beginning to see God in all this.

But where was God on Friday?

My friend, I think you’ll understand the dark places my mind is going to. Any hope that had begun to flicker in me was snuffed out on Friday.

 

Friday

Dear Friend,

I hardly know what to write. Yesterday was such a terrible, black day.

You remember the man I’ve been telling you about? The teacher who claimed to be from God? He’s been executed. He’s dead.

Everything happened so fast. He was arrested sometime during the night, and apparently there was a mob and a sham of a trial, and the next thing we knew, he was hanging on a cross out there on Golgotha.

Strange things happened yesterday–and just at the time he died. Unusual darkness. An earthquake. Some trouble at the Temple (the details I’ve heard are unbelievable, impossible, so I still need to find out what the truth is about that incident). And some people are telling wild tales about ghosts walking the streets of the city.

Whoever or whatever he really was, his death seemed to shake heaven and earth.

But all that’s left now is this heavy, hopeless sadness. Evil wins. Again.

 

 

What do you talk to God about?

We make choices—although not always the best choices—when we decide what to talk about and with whom to discuss what’s on our mind. With whom do you discuss your financial concerns? What about emotional trauma? Who are the people you trust to hear you? Family or relationship issues, conflicts at work, dreams for the future, problems with your kids, health issues, political views—all subjects are chosen and filtered, depending on who it is we’re in conversation with.

What do you talk to God about?

I’ve been thinking about this lately because last week I came across a quote from Charles Spurgeon that I can’t forget.

And then this morning, I read Luke 12:6-7, words of Jesus telling us that God doesn’t forget about one little sparrow and His children are so much more loved and cared for than sparrows that He even keeps track of each hair on my head. He must care about the smallest detail of my life—things even I don’t pay attention to.

Yes, I pray about “little” things. I’ve asked Him to remind me where I put something I’ve temporarily “lost,” or I’ve asked for the energy to get through a meeting, or I’ve thanked Him for a beautiful morning sky. Small things in my day. I believe Psalm 37:23 that says He delights in the details of our lives.

The Charles Spurgeon quote, though, prompted me to ponder my belief in God’s power to do the big things.

Of course I believe God is omnipotent. He can do the impossible. Of course I believe that.

I say that… But do my conversations with God show that I believe it?

Spurgeon wrote about God’s greatness. Look at the wonders of the earth, the heavens, the universe. “You may expect great things from Him who made the heavens and the earth… He who made all these things is great in power; therefore, ask something great of Him, when you come before Him in prayer.”

Ask something great of Him.

When I do ask Him for something great, do I have secret reservations? (Ah, but nothing’s secret from God.) Do I doubt He’ll do something spectacular? Do I think He’s limited by earthly boundaries, limits, and realities?

I’ve had to ask myself these questions.

At her brother’s graveside, Martha heard Jesus say to her, “If you believe, you’ll see the glory of God.”

If we believe, what great things will we ask of Him? And what glorious things might we then see?