Saturday, September 26, 2020

Growing Godward

Life is a journey. You've probably heard that, and if you've lived even a few days of it, you know that to be true. Our lives are about building upon yesterday toward tomorrow, always taking one step closer toward where we want to be without losing sight of where we are today. It's a challenge, but the meaning of life is found in the living of it, and our stories are being written anew every second. 

The world would like to convince us that our progress is linear. That is, we start at point A and end up at point Z, having gone through B, C, D, E....etc. all in order. The world tells us that if we want to build a life, there is a natural way to do it, certain steps we must take. Just take something so simple as the work that we desire to do. The world says that once you set your eyes on your dream job, you just have to finish high school, get the proper post-graduate education, enter in at a certain type of company in a certain type of position, take three steps in such-and-such a direction, accept a promotion into a certain department, and before you know it, you've worked your way up the ladder to where you want to be - one step at a time. 

Or take something like romantic love or family life. If you want to have your own family, then you start by figuring out what you want in a mate and pursue persons who fit your criteria. Then, you date for awhile. Then, you get engaged. Then, you get married. And when you're settled down into life as just the two of you, you start trying to add children as you desire. There's a natural flow to the way things develop, and it's all linear and predictable. 

This kind of thinking can lead us to believe that we are entitled to whatever comes next in our plan. If we have built a way to get to what we want and if we follow the steps faithfully, then every time we are ready to take the next step forward, the world ought to be waiting to greet us with open arms. Oughtn't it? This is how the world says it is done, so shouldn't the world be on board with doing it this way? 

Because of our understanding of this, it becomes very difficult when things don't go our way. When we don't get to take that next step when we think we're ready for it. When point C doesn't get us to point D when and where we wanted it to be. When we realize that sometimes, point C takes us back to point B for a season. 

I used to think I was entitled to step into the next thing. I used to think that because I'd been doing things the right way and following the right plans and because I had come so far down the road that I have traveled, it was only natural that it was time for me to take the next step. And I have expected the world to oblige. But of course, it doesn't. 

And after many wrong turns and detours and backtracks and traffic cones, I find that...I'm actually glad that it doesn't. I'm glad that the world doesn't let me just travel the path that I've set out for myself, or even the path that I believe God has set before me. Because the real journey I'm taking is so much richer, so much more fulfilling, and has so much more potential than my limited vision ever could have seen coming. 

It's frustrating sometimes to not be where I want to be or where I think I ought to be by now (and who ever gave me that idea?), but the truth is that I'm at a point in my life where I'm satisfied by the journey. With one caveat: 

As long as I'm growing. 

Rather than being super-interested in destinations or outcomes or landmarks or whatever, I have just one thing on my heart - growing Godward. I want to be learning something every day. I want to be doing something better every day. I want to be more humble, more focused, more content, more kind, more whatever. Just, Lord, keep me growing. Keep me becoming the person You have created me to be. 

The truth is that in all the seasons of my life that haven't worked out the way I thought they should, with every single thing I felt entitled to that never came about, I have found myself embraced in deep seasons of growth that have made me into more of the person I want to be, a person created in the image of God. 

The irony, of course, is that if you let it, then every single season of growth can make you just feel more entitled to the thing you've been waiting on, but you can't do that. You can't let growth be the means to the end; growth is the end game. Growth is what we're going after. At least, it's what I'm going after. 

And so, if God doesn't see fit to clear the path for me and to make it an easy step into the next thing, then so be it. I still pray for those things, but not as much. Now, I just pray that He keeps growing me toward them. That He keeps making me ready for when those doors do open. That He prepares my heart to be deeply satisfied in Him so that I don't find my satisfaction anywhere else. 

That He just keeps me growing Godward, no matter which road I'm on or where the next detour takes me. 

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