I hope everyone is having a fantastic week thus far!
I’m actually very hype because on July 23rd, this Thursday, I’ll be celebrating a year since moving to NJ! This anniversary marks my first year out of college. It also marks a year at my first big girl job teaching in a new city. And to be completely honest, this time last year I was anything but thrilled about the move.
I know that for some, we have been dealing with this reality of being on our own since that first year out of college or as soon as we turned 18. And for others, even earlier than that. But for me, this year was the first time in my life I can honestly say that I’m handling everything by myself. For someone who’s hand was always holding onto my parents’ hands to guide me, this past year has been quite the experience.
I was very, very VERY blessed to have parents who would help me out financially during college. Yeah, I worked a couple of part-time jobs here and there to keep money in my pockets. But I always had the assurance that my parents were there when and if I needed anything. If I was ever short on cash flow, I knew I could call my dad to bail me out, promising that this time would be the last.
And I’ll be honest! With time, I got very comfortable with that support.
I was spending a little more than I should’ve and not saving what I had, knowing that my dad would be there no matter what. I was careless and not considering what sacrifices were being made on my parents’ end to make sure I had what I wanted on mine. Because I was relying on someone else to be responsible for me, I didn’t really bear the full weight of falling flat on my face when making mistakes.
However, there does come a time and day when the scissors finally come out. My parents slowly but surely began to wean me out of their pockets with each passing year. When I received my first official big girl job paycheck, my financial string was happily severed by my loving parents, who I know were secretly praise dancing somewhere.
Because at that point, I was no longer a child who needed constant saving.
I was, well, I am, a full-fledged adult, now responsible for every bill, every payment, every duty my parents face themselves. At the end of the day, I have nobody to be mad at but myself if I come up a little short. I had to grow up.
Being mature requires a level of responsibility—a certain level of accountability for myself. I can no longer operate as I did as a kid in college, making choices without thinking of the potential consequences. Going through life as carefree as a child under parental supervision. If I want to be taken seriously as an adult, I had to grow out of that dependency.
That same mindset in my physical life I’m learning to apply to my spiritual life.
When I first got saved as a pre-teen, I was so on fire for God. I would literally sense Him moving through and around me. I could feel His presence in Sunday services and be brought to tears thinking of His love for me. I would receive so many blessings in my life and even more grace and mercy. Whenever I called on Him, He would respond quickly, and clearly so I knew it was a message directly from Him.
Of course, I would do my own thing, but I knew that God’s hands of protection were over me as they always had been my whole life. Y’all know how there’s generational blessings? I am convinced that the favor over my life is a direct result of the obedience of my parents and their parents, still trickling down on me. So, I was straight! No need to trip, stress, or worry, right?
But as I grew older, I began to notice a slow shift in our relationship.
That feeling of being in God’s presence was harder to find. I couldn’t tell if the messages I received were from Him or thoughts I conjured up myself. My calls out to Him seemed to fall on deaf ears. I was always at the altar, praying the same prayer repeatedly to get that feeling back. I felt like I was in constant conflict with the trials in my life. I felt distant. I stopped seeking.
I even started getting mad at God. Like what caused the switch up? I did everything I learned when I first got saved at 13 the same as I always had. What made Him act differently towards me at 23?
And then I heard it. Clear as day.
“You need to grow up.”
You mean to tell me I can’t keep operating on the same level spiritually as I always have? I thought once you get saved, you’re good.
But what happens when we have to take responsibility for our own spiritual maturity and not rely on the favor of those before us?
In my own study time, I watched a message by Dr. Tony Evans in which he further confirmed the message that God was calling me to spiritually grow up. He talked about those initial clearly laid out sights and signs from God are just introductory level encounters. God will show us His goodness clear and understandable so that we can get a taste for who He is and wants to be in our lives. But eventually, we have to stop expecting to be spoon-fed spiritual baby food when we deal with spiritually adult issues and problems. We have to grow up and become responsible for our faith and our calling for ourselves.
John the Evangelist wrote in 1 John 2 about the differences between new believers (he calls them children), growing believers (referred to as young men), and fathers (spiritually mature believers).
I am writing to you, fathers [those believers who are spiritually mature], because you know Him who has existed from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men [those believers who are growing in spiritual maturity], because you have been victorious and have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children [those who are new believers, those spiritually immature], because you have come to know the Father.1 John 2:13
God calls each and every one of us to obtain spiritual maturity not to get better at religious acts (though they do strengthen our relationship with Him). Being mature in our faith is when we can know God for who he truly is. Not just knowing about Him from other’s experiences or reading about Him in the Bible, but having a consistent relationship with Him for ourselves.
My parents were more than excited to see me grow into a maturing adult who can manage my own time, money, and resources based on the knowledge they have taught me. God wants the same thing: to see us mature as believers, applying what we learn from knowing Him to our lives.
Trust me when I say I’m speaking to myself more than I’m talking to you because I’m still growing and developing every day.
In those moments when I wasn’t feeling God move as much in my life, I now see that He was talking through some much-needed growing pains. Those moments of conflict and battle in my life were and are still teaching me how to rely on knowing Him and His word to overcome any obstacle.
In my striving to be spiritually mature, I’ve learned it does not come without bumping my head against the wall plenty of times. But nothing can truly compare to how much I’ve learned about who God is and wants to be in my life. The joys of learning about His love for me is only deepening my love for Him in return!
Even in my frustration with God in these growth moments, I continue to pray the words of Paul written in Ephesians 1.
[I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son]. 18 And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit] so that you will know and cherish the [f]hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the [g]saints (God’s people),Ephesians 1:17, 18
As I have continued to pray these words over myself, I also am praying them over you! That you would not only choose to accept Jesus into your heart as Savior, but also aim to know Our Father intimately as He desperately wants to know you!