I’ve never been much of a rock climber but as I stood before the artificial wall, a mere boy, watching all my friends scramble to top, it looked easy. Grabbing the first rung, I progressed at a moderate speed until I noticed the higher I went the more of a stretch it became. When I finally arrived at a grip just out of reach, I dawdled and eventually turned back defeated.
When we first say yes to Jesus our growth is exponential. Each day holds a new concept to learn, a new verse to read, a new truth to unlock. Somewhere along the way we seem to plateau. All of a sudden we’re learning the same truths just stated differently. Granted, repeated truths, no matter how elementary, have a way of challenging us in different seasons, it can still feel like our growth has somehow been stunted.
I can confidently say I’m a smarter Christian than I was a year ago, but the question I’m wrestling with is whether or not I’ve become a better one. God calls us to love him with all our mind, soul, heart, and strength. To merely grow intellectually is to become a lopsided Christian. My prayers should be more meaningful than they were a year ago. I should be able to hear God’s voice a bit clearer. My life should embody him more. Perhaps, and maybe I’m stretching it, I should even be a more loving person. As much as I love mulling over ideas, at the end of the day it’s about becoming more like Jesus and sometimes I wonder if I am or if I’m dawdling at the same rung in rock climbing wall of our relationship.
For the past few months the cry of my heart has been to go deeper with God. Richard Foster in his book, The Celebration of Discipline, writes, “Superficiality is the curse of this age. The doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem. The desperate need today is not for a great number of intellectual people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” I couldn’t agree more. With our fast food, smart phones, and high speed Internet connections, we’ve become a generation so enamored with instantaneous satisfaction delayed gratification is an inconvenience if not an injustice. As much as I long for depth with God, part of me wishes it could happen instantly. But it doesn’t work like that. Like all relationships, depth takes time. The effort put forth in the beginning is not the same kind it takes to press forward. The rungs are higher now.
As unromantic as it sounds, after a certain point we must intentional about our growth with God. Of course it starts with prayer. Then comes the development of a plan. At the beginning of the year I was issued a spiritual growth assessment (http://www.lifeway.com/lwc/files/lwcF_PDF_DSC_Spiritual_Growth_Assessment.pdf) by some people in my church to help identify areas to improve. As usual, I didn’t think much of it at the time but this week I’m challenged to revisit both the assessment and the spiritual disciplines Richard Foster recommends in his book. Something has to change.
I’ve never been much of a rock climber, but it would seem God is waiting for me at the top and dawdling in the middle is no longer satisfying.