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!

  • * * *

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

 

***

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;

 

 

 

God’s love — always in our history

Need some good reading today? Read your story (and mine) in two psalms—106 and 107.

Both chapters start out with the well-known thanksgiving:

Praise the LORD!
Give thanks to the LORD for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 106 goes on, after that wonderful opening, to recount the history of the people God rescued from slavery in Egypt. It’s shocking and sad and downright wicked.

After all God had done for them, they still turned away—testing God’s patience with everything from grumbling and complaining, to outright worship of idols and demon worship that included sacrificing of their children.

Yet, as God’s anger disciplined them and they were finally crushed by the results of their sin, when they called out to Him for help, He rescued them, “because of His unfailing love.”

The second psalm, 107, starts with the same refrain of thanksgiving for God’s faithful love that endures forever. Then it recounts our history. Read it closely, and you’ll most likely find your story. My story is there, too. All of us, wandering, willful, in distress and gloom, foolish, suffering from our sin, battered by life. He gathered all of us who had been living in exile from His presence.

And those who call out to God are rescued! God hears, and in His constant love, He comes to help. He’s done miraculous, wonderful things to care for His children. In your life. In my life.

Those two chapters end with this:

Those who are wise will take all this to heart;
   they will see in our history the faithful love of the LORD.

Today, Thanksgiving, let us take heart. Let us each look back at our personal history and see how His love has cared for us. Even when we were (are??) foolish and rebellious and downright sinful.

His faithful love endures forever.

And for that, I will forever give thanks.

*

Peace? Yes, peace.

Just a very quick note today — because this is a thought that has already changed my day. It’s worth dashing off a reminder to you …

Are we foolish and naïve to even suggest one can have peace in this world?

Jesus said He gives us peace. It’s part of the inheritance we have as children of God. Now. Today. Yes, even in this world.

And He says it is a peace like nothing the world can give.

It’s only through and from Him.

Oswald Chambers says in today’s meditation in My Utmost for His Highest: “We become troubled because we have not been taking Him into account.”

What happens when you face the thing that is troubling you, wearing you down, frightening you, or creating chaos in your life — when you face it, taking our Lord into account?

Doesn’t everything change when we take Jesus into account?

My day just did.

 

 

Psalm 63 – Looking back… and ahead

Psalm 63.

Refreshment.

Encouragement.

Water for our souls.

During the time these posts were being published, I hit a slump — one of those steep droops of emotional and mental fatigue when discouragement tempts us to just give it up. You may know some of the lies that play in your head at times like that. Was that Satan’s strategy in the wilderness? Did he scheme to hit Jesus when He was exhausted physically, mentally, and emotionally?

But Jesus hung on to Scripture to rebuff the lies.

At the bottom of the slump, some of these verses — the very stuff I’d been writing — came back: God is my helper. I walk surrounded by His unfailing love. He holds my life securely, even though my grasp sometimes slips. And most of all — my enemies will not beat me. And so those last few verses, that I had always thought kind of an odd ending for that particular psalm, came into sharp focus.

I was reminded again of the vivid illustration I was given about the Spirit using Scripture as His sword against our enemies. He slices and dices those lies. Scripture is a powerful weapon. (Click on the phrase “vivid illustration” to see the post.)

I hope some of these prayers come back to you at just the time you need the sword in your hand.

May God bless your day with refreshment, encouragement, and a sense of His constant presence and help.

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.

Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!

I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.

You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.

Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.

But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
They will go down into the depths of the earth.
    They will die by the sword
and become the food of jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God.
All who trust in him will praise him,
while liars will be silenced.

Psalm 63

Psalm 63:9-11 – Protection and Victory

But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
They will go down into the depths of the earth.

   They will die by the sword
and become the food of jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God.
All who trust in him will praise him,
while liars will be silenced.
Psalm 63:9-11

This seems an odd way to end our prayers. The specific words are those of a king who has been betrayed and is hiding from enemies. Yet he is confident that his enemies will fall. God will put things right.

 

And there’s a thought for me: 

My confidence and trust are in the God of righteousness.
No thing, no one, plotting my destruction will succeed.

That is the destiny God has planned for His children.

 

When I read these last verses, my mind always goes to the victory of Psalm 18. 

The psalmist — beaten, defeated, feeling the coils of death closing around him — cries out to God.
And 
God comes to his rescue, in a most dramatic way. 

 

But that’s not all God does!

 

He trains us to do war with our enemies, strengthens our arms for battle.
In the end, the enemy is chased down, crushed, ground up like dust and swept into the gutter!

(Read Psalm 18:25-42)

 

Oh, to do battle like that!

 

Train us. Give strength and victory to Your children today, Father, Jesus, Spirit.

*

O God, you are my God;
    I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
    my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
    where there is no water.

I have seen you in your sanctuary
and gazed upon your power and glory.

Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
how I praise you!

I will praise you as long as I live,
lifting up my hands to you in prayer.

You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
I will praise you with songs of joy.

 I lie awake thinking of you,
meditating on you through the night.

Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.

I cling to you;
your strong right hand holds me securely.

But those plotting to destroy me will come to ruin.
They will go down into the depths of the earth.
    They will die by the sword
and become the food of jackals.
But the king will rejoice in God.
All who trust in him will praise him,
while liars will be silenced.

Psalm 63