Encouragement from the Word

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth"
III John 1:4

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Growing Into my Spiritual Shoes...Roadblocks to Spiritual Maturity

It has taken me many years to really grow into my spiritual shoes...to begin to be transformed into the woman I was meant to be in Christ. Over the years, my life, like the lives of many Christian women today, has been filled with distractions and pitfalls that have caused me to veer off the path of spiritual maturity and centeredness. Therefore, although I was saved at a young age, I spent much of my life as an ineffective and somewhat unfocused Christian. I was distracted, as many women are, by selfish pursuits and a worldly mindset.

My Story

I was nearly in my 40's before I began to settle into and fully embrace my purpose and mission as a woman. There were several events and circumstances that God used to bring my life into focus and to prepare me for the road ahead. One important event was our church's group study of Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life.  His book helped me to understand how my gifts tied into his purpose for my life and gave me a new appreciation for how important those gifts were to the body of Christ. It kind of gave me a jump start...a renewed enthusiasm for service and ministry.

In addition to that book study, I really began to dig into the Word in a new way and to re-engage in women's Bible study groups at our church...eventually fulfilling a desire and burden God had laid on my heart to teach younger women. Through those Bible studies, God opened my eyes to many of his biblical truths in new and exciting ways.

Another very impactful event in my life at that time was the death of my sweet father, who had been a faithful Christian servant for all of his life and a loving and involved presence in our home. I was very close to my father, in fact, he was the most spiritually influential person in my life. During the last ten years of my father's life, before he passed away of lymphoma, he was truly on fire for the Lord and passionate about spreading the gospel everywhere he went. He even traveled to Columbia on a mission trip at 70 years of age, handing out Bibles on the streets of Bogota. When he passed away I almost literally felt the passing of the baton of faith to me. I actually took my first mission trip to the Apache Indians in Arizona the very next year and have taken several mission trips since then. My father's passing impressed upon my heart the urgency of living a purpose-filled life and accomplishing the work he has for us to do during our brief time on earth.

Beware of Distractions

So how does the world, or Satan, sidetrack us from effectively ministering and impacting the world for Christ? Well, for one thing, he keeps us focused on ourselves. We want to be liked, admired and accepted by our friends, family and acquaintances. That means we must strive to achieve the world's standard of beauty and worth so that we will be attractive, interesting and loved. This takes lots of time, effort and money and certainly can take our focus off of serving others and growing in relationship with Him.

In addition to focusing on ourselves and trying to fit in, we are distracted as women by striving to prove that we are valuable...that we can do everything a man can do...that we can " bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan, and never let you forget you're a man!" I don't know about you, but, at this point in my life I am perfectly happy and content to be fulfilling my honorable and high calling as my husband's helper, supporter and encourager. In fact I count it a privilege and it gives me great joy, as well. I no longer feel like I have to dig my heels in and demand my rights. As a matter of fact, the message of the Bible is all about yielding our rights!

Another way that Satan distract us and derails our spiritual growth is by sowing discontent in our hearts and making us want more and more "stuff". Many women are constantly striving to "keep up with the Joneses"...often forgetting that we will not be able to take anything with us when we go. ( to heaven, that is ) If God has blessed you financially...wonderful! Don't keep it to yourself...use it to further his kingdom. And learn to be content with and grateful for what you have.

And lastly, Satan distracts us from our mission by keeping us so busy that we neglect our time in the Word and in prayer. We cannot live a victorious and effective Christian life apart from Him.

Some Practical Tips

Don't waste years of your life focusing on yourself or on trying to "be somebody" in the eyes of the world. You already are somebody...a precious and unique woman of God...and he has a job for you to do.

Get back into the Word of God...daily. There you will find help with prioritizing, finding balance, living in peace, accepting and extending forgiveness, and discovering your purpose as a woman of God.

Begin to be others-minded...look outward and open your spiritual eyes and ears to the needs around you. God wants to use you and to bless you as you selflessly meet the needs of those he will put in your path.

Stop worrying about being taken advantage of...try yeilding your rights and see what God will do in your life and in the lives of those around you.

Forgive those who have let you down or hurt you. Don't wait for them to ask for forgiveness...it may never happen. Love them anyway, as God loves you. It is freeing to let go of  grudges, bitterness and malice and to let the Lord deal with those who have hurt or disappointed you...in his own time!

Here are some wonderful books that have helped me to understand God's plan for womankind and his unique purpose and plan for me:

The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace
Finding Your Purpose as a Mom by Donna Otto
Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

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