When you keep “working” on the same issue…

A few weeks ago I found old prayer journals from my college days. It was discouraging to see prayers for the same areas of sin I’m praying for now. Have I really not grown spiritually in the last 13 years of pursuing Christ?

I heard an author recently say, “spiritual maturity comes after emotional maturity.” Her testimony was actually one of the motivators for seeing a counselor. Because how can I expect to grow in my faith if I’m stuck on past hurts?

How can I grasp God’s grace for me, if I don’t understand grace? If I can’t grasp His grace for me, how can I give grace to others?

When I brought up these ideas to “Sally” (the counselor) she gave me a wonderful visual example. Here is my attempt at bringing her idea to life (an iPhone pic of a Word doc…nothing but the best around here):

There is a spiral with a plank through one side. The spiral is your life. As you grow and travel up the spiral you eventually hit the plank. The plank represents your “issue”. Whether it’s insecurity, doubt, inability to love, difficulty understanding grace…that’s the plank.

Each time you hit the plank you think, “not this again! Haven’t I dealt with this issue before?” 

Yes, the truth is you have. But in reality you are higher up the plank than you were last time you hit it. As you climb the spiral you climb higher and higher on the plank. The progress may not be perfect, but it’s progress (Lysa TerKeurst calls it “imperfect progress” in her book “Unglued”).

In order to achieve spiritual maturity I must obtain emotional maturity. But maturity doesn’t happen in a moment, it happens over time.

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.  Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me.” 2 Corinthians 12:7-8

God gives me a “thorn in my flesh” so I remain close and stay humble. Everyone has a “thorn” or “plank”. Each day is another day of progress. Theologians call it progressive sanctification: “process in a Christian’s life in which he/she is progressively made more holy (set-apart).”

“The process of progressive sanctification is described in Galatians 5:19-23. Progressive sanctification is the journey of producing less and less of the acts of the sinful nature (Galatians 5:19-21) and more and more of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Progressive sanctification is a process empowered by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 5:18) and enabled through prayer and the study of God’s Word.”- all about following Jesus

So, do not be discouraged if you keep bumping up against “that issue” in your life. Whatever keeps you clinging to the Cross was given to you for a purpose. You are growing, maturing, being sanctified to become more like Christ.

Lord, 

As I desire to be more of a God-centered mom than a self-centered one, give me patience in the process. Continue to fill me with your Spirit. May  Facebook & Twitter not replace prayer and Your Word in my day. May I lean into You as I make imperfect progress. 

Amen

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5 thoughts on “When you keep “working” on the same issue…

  1. I find I will be working on character traits for the rest of my life. Some of the most troublesome ones I have found out are family traits from previous generations that my dad is only telling me about now from his parents and grandparents. Whoever said sins of the fathers is nonsense is wrong; i suffer from the same personality as my grandmother, but at least i’m trying to do something about curbing them. I just worry my kids are inheriting it through example. I just keep praying about it.

    • great point kate. Generational sin. I heard Sally Clarkson say, “you are standing on your mother’s shoulders and your children will stand on yours.” Meaning, each generation will “overcome sin” more than the previous. I see that in my own family history. Do you see it in yours?
      Worry is not from the Lord. Each time we start to worry about our kids inheriting our sin, let’s pray they will be filled with the Holy Spirit more than the sin. Thank you for bringing up some great points and blessings to you today!!

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