Recently, we’ve explored a lot about change, how it impacts others, and how to persevere when the tough work of change can make us feel like we’ll never see the fruit from all our hard work. How long is that growing season anyhow?
I might have been there before. Haven’t we all?
I am reminded of the importance of seasons, and how everything has a time perfectly planned and predestined to come to full harvest. God is a bountiful God, full of abundant blessings. I’m not inferring He is a genie and will grant our every wish. Sometimes our wish would be the very worst thing that could happen to us.
No. When we are in His will and doing our best to walk in His ways, He will bless us. A lot of times His bounty shows up in the most abundant ways when He lavishes His love upon us.
In order to walk in God’s will, He requires us to change. It’s a given. Change is godly. It’s part of the transformation work we must do if we call ourselves Christian.
Have you ever seen a Christian that’s stuck, seemingly going nowhere, or worse sinking in quick sand? That is a tragedy! I’m not talking about someone who has a short season of working something out so she can step further into her calling. I’m referring to those so stuck in their ways, they refuse to change.
Can I suggest, that’s not Christ-like, and since the name Christian means Christ-like, shouldn’t we live up to that expectation? Names are important, after all. They help to define who we are. We should be Christ-like.
Scripture doesn’t tell us a lot about Jesus from the time of His birth to when He stepped into ministry. It does tell us this, “He grew”. Jesus grew. I’ve often wondered what happened. What did He do during all that time to prepare for what He knew would come next?
Scripture tells us John the Baptist grew as well.
And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.—Luke 1:80 NIV
John the Baptist needed to grow privately before he appeared publicly. In order for that to happen, he had to take up residence in the wilderness. He lived there until it was time for him to receive promotion. His first public appearance would have to wait.
Our time of waiting in the wilderness is ultimately for our promotion. But God needs to do the work of change in us, so He can do great things in and through us. We have to be willing to change in order to move to the next level He’s calling us to.
I can relate to this. Recently, I was reflecting back on all the hard work of change God and I have done together. I stood in my living room overwhelmed at His goodness, and amazed at what a great promise-keeper He is as He helps us rise beyond our circumstances to a level we couldn’t have comprehended!
I was getting ready to attend a national conference with other organizations involved in the care of women rescued from sexual exploitation and human trafficking. This flabbergasts me, to say the least.
Initially, survivors are in such delicate shape, their spirits wounded from the trauma they’ve been exposed to. Who am I to help? How did I get here? And how exactly is it that I’m standing here getting ready to go to a gathering with like-minded believers wanting to make a difference to end sexual exploitation and slavery?
It started many changes ago. A planted seed, another one, and another, wait, wait … where is my harvest? I’m wondering if the harder the thing, the longer we have to wait in the wilderness. Wounded women. Certainly God will take care in how He grooms us – me – to help.
A long time ago, God shared His wisdom with me when I was grumbling about what on earth was taking so long. The more people you can help, the more you could also harm. It wasn’t that God didn’t want me to help. He didn’t want me to hurt anyone else in the process, because I hadn’t done enough of the hard work of change myself first.
Gradually, He gave me more opportunities to grow and change. And He will give me more as He asks more of me—not to earn my salvation. That’s already sealed. He’ll ask more change of us because He wants us to rise into the fullest potential He’s placed within us. He knows our future and He knows it’s bright when we follow in His footsteps.
As I was thinking what an honor it is that God is trusting me with this mission, I stood speechless listening to a song God gave me a long time ago when I was still in a ditch of devastation and destruction from a life not walking with Him … but just starting to. The song held promise for me to hope beyond my former circumstances that somehow, some way God was going to do something amazing in my life. I couldn’t see what that was. I couldn’t possibly have imagined all the good things God would have done (and did, and does) in my life.
I might have said, “That’s impossible!”
Before I knew with God all things ARE possible. (Matthew 19:26)
As I stood listening to the lyrics, tears silently trickling down my cheeks, I looked up to see the sign hanging on my wall from the early days of my walk.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and to not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”—Jeremiah 29:11
Seeing that promise and knowing how true God’s declaration has been in my life made the current of water trickling down my face flow faster as tears built momentum.
I’m glad I believed that promise enough to cling to it during the difficult times of change. I’m sure I’ll cling to it for future changes God brings.
We can guarantee ourselves if we want to do great things for God, He desires to “promote us” (remembering he who is first is last – so I’m not talking about getting ahead).
What I mean by promotion is God knowing our hearts and knowing we want to do well to walk in His will, so we’ll do the hard work of change. He knows we’ll make mistakes in all of that, but He knows we don’t want to. But if and when we do make mistakes, He knows we’ll learn from them.
We’ll commit to change because that’s where growth comes from. If growth is important for John the Baptist and Jesus Himself, how important is growth for us?
We started by asking, “How long is a growing season anyhow?” My guess is as long as it takes. And, really, we’re never done growing. We grow to where we need to be for this level, and to receive the next promotion with more responsibility, we’ll have to grow some more. God needs to do His work in us so He can do His work through us.
Are you willing to change to do that? How is God asking you to invest in yourself, your growth, and your relationship with Him so He can promote you to the next level? Remember, He planned for you to prosper long ago. Let Him prepare you to do so.
I have an exercise I’d like to suggest. Insert your name in the Scripture modified from Luke 1:80. Write it down, and keep it someplace you can visibly see to remind yourself why it is you are willing to grow in the wilderness.
And (insert your name) grew and became strong in spirit; and she lived in the wilderness until she appeared publicly.
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