As Western Christians we have a reputation of being spoilt as we are immersed in a self-centred culture. Without daily persecution we live fairly comfortable lives and rarely have the depths of our faith tested.
But the Bible shows us we are meant to be soldiers for the Lord: strong, mature, resilient, faith-filled and wise. We are meant to know the Word of God and use it as a weapon against the enemy. We are meant to be faithful, obedient and walking in step with the Father each day. The Lord wants His children to be on solid food, not just milk.
So, let's evaluate: do we let God grow us even when it's painful or humbling? Do we really seek Him and apply His Word? Do we let Him correct us? Are we teachable? This is where the rubber hits the road of a faith-filled life. We have a choice to partner with God so we grow and move forward.
Moving forward might mean surrender, or offering forgiveness to someone, or maybe repenting from wrong thoughts, actions or attitudes. Growing will require letting God renew our minds by reading and soaking in His Word, so we are equipped to step out in faith.
The Lord rejoices in a teachable child and He yearns to take His children deeper. God is faithful and helps us learn as we go, He is patient as we make mistakes and cares about our hearts—our commitment to Him, 'For the eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him' (2 Chronicles chapter 16, verse 9).
We were birthed from the Father's very heart—He loves His children deeply. His desire is that we grow more like His son Jesus. God's intention is never to hurt us, always to grow us and always to bless us. To bless actually means 'to kneel to enrich' so God kneels down and blesses us, that we might be enriched by Him. He enriches us by sharing Himself with us.
Many Christians have twisted ideas of what it looks like to be blessed by God—this is where prosperity doctrine has been very unhelpful and damaging. We are quick to think blessing equals material possessions and wealth, but His blessings are deeper.
God blesses us with His faithfulness, His love and His presence. He promises to bless us through every trial and even in our weakness, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness' (2 Corinthians chapter 12, verse 9).
What does Christian maturity look like?
The Lord wants us to grow and ripen into the fullness of what we can be, like fruit. Fruit takes a while to ripen, there is a maturation process.
The worst thing we can do is run from the one who has the answers and is the great gardener of our hearts and lives. We should be agreeing with the Lord's natural processes—including the pruning—all while abiding in Him (John chapter 15, verses 1–27).
Only God knows how to get the best crop out of our lives for His glorious Kingdom and bless us in the process. At the perfect time we will be ripe and sweet, and ready for His purposes for us.
When everything is difficult
Sometimes life gets really hard. You may have stood on God's promises for what seems like a long, long time without results. Frustration and weariness can creep in and it may seem like God's personal promises to you will not come to pass.
If you are in this place, I believe the Lord wants to help you see His love for you, and His goodness through the processes and seasons of life. The refining fire, the pruning secateurs, the slow process of growing and ripening—it is all because He loves us so much. Ask Him for understanding as you navigate the seasons of life.
The Lord has been calling me back to teaching small children. I admit this has not been something I wanted—I desired God's provision for another heart's calling. I wanted God to unfold my life in the way I dreamed, meaning motherhood would be next on my list.
Building a career has been very low on my list of priorities—maybe sometime in the future when I hit 40 and my kids had grown up. However, God's heart and blueprint for my life includes teaching children a lot sooner than I had planned.
Three weeks ago I heard His voice speak to me. He said, 'It's time to die to yourself Liana, so I can rise in you. (John chapter 12, verse 24). Let my selfless heart be your guide and my compassion flow through you. It is time for you to activate the Father's heart in you—my heart of love for those kids. And you will shine in your new sphere of influence'.
So I have been on a journey of surrendering everything again and a surprising joy has come from aligning my desires with His will. God has opened the door for teaching and I am excited about the opportunity to be His light. I start next week.
May the Lord be glorified in your lives too as you partner with Him and let Him grow you into all he has for you.
Liana Monaghan lives in Goolwa, South Australia and is a songwriter for the Lord. Liana runs a home fellowship with creative worship house with her husband Justin who is a prophetic artist and minister.
Liana Monaghan previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/liana-monaghan.html