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If you sincerely care about pleasing God with your life, then you are most eager to grow in the faith. The last thing you want to do is be spiritually stalled. But when you are presented with descriptions of more mature attitudes and doctrines that are still too far away for you to personally grasp, it’s easy for Satan to drag you down by pointing out how much growing you still have to do. If this is where you are at today, then this post is for you.
Spiritual maturity is a process that takes time. Imagine what would happen if a toddler’s body tried to reach adult size in one month’s time. The results would be disastrous. Our bodies aren’t equipped to handle too much change at once. Likewise, our souls can’t leap into total submission, deep reverence, and humility overnight. But does a loving parent stand over their child’s crib yelling at them to hurry up and grow? Quite the opposite: parents who really love their kids are always commenting about how quickly the child is growing up before their eyes. Although children feel like it takes forever for them to catch up with the big kids at school, parents wish the years would slow down so they could have more time to enjoy each stage of their children’s development. God is our Parent, and He thoroughly enjoys each stage of our spiritual growth. While Satan tries to keep you focused on how far you still have to go, God is celebrating how far you’ve already come. When you are aligned with God in your heart by sincerely desiring for Him to have His total way in your life, there’s no such thing as being “behind schedule.”
It would be a very simple thing for God to instantly transform you into a clone of Christ. But while Satan tries to convince us that God is in a hurry for us to reach our destination, the truth is that God relishes the journey. Let’s remember that it was His idea to make maturity a gradual process instead of an instant change. No one instructed God on how to design human beings. He made us just the way He wanted us to be.
Spiritual maturity is like having God invite you to come on a long trip with Him. The final destination is so far away that it will take the two of you years to get there, but so what? You’re with God every day. The fact that you’re trying to get somewhere is just a trivial detail compared to the thrill of knowing that He is with you every moment. God is never going to ditch you on this journey. You won’t wake up one morning and find a note that says He continued on without you because you slept in too late. God adjusts His pace to match yours. He carefully plans out each day’s route, and He is always fully prepared for any obstacles that come up along the way. This isn’t a pressured race. You’re not in competition with other Christians. It’s just you and God, moving at your own pace, and He promises that as long as you stay focused on Him, you won’t fail to reach your destination.
Heaven is not our end goal. Becoming Jesus’ twin isn’t our goal. Overcoming our flesh, perfect behavior, and totally righteous attitudes—these things are nice, but they are not why we were created. God made us to exist in communion with Him. When you sincerely want God to have His way in your life, you are exactly where He wants you to be. It isn’t hard to stay in the center of God’s will. It isn’t hard to be a source of great joy to Him. God is very easy to please. He doesn’t demand perfection from us. Instead, He wants us to want Him to be our First Love.
We can ask for all kinds of glorious attitudes from God, but He will take His sweet time in giving them to us. Why does God delay in answering our pleas for Him to help us treat Him with the reverence He deserves? Why doesn’t He rush to fill our hearts with more love for Him? Why doesn’t He provide more assistance in keeping our scattered minds focused on Him for more than a few seconds at a time? When we keep asking God to empower us to be all the things we know He wants us to be, we are doing everything we can possibly do. We can’t overcome our flesh on our own. We can’t perform surgery on our fallen cores and extract the selfishness that is woven into the very fiber of our being. Yet as we plead for these things over and over again, God doesn’t budge. He acts as if He is content with where we are at, flaws and all. How can this be? Because God wants devotion from us, and that is exactly what we are giving Him when we ask for Him to make us more pleasing in His sight.
So much frustration in life comes from not understanding how little God asks of us. Yes, He does want absolute surrender from us. He wants to be so important to us, that we would be willing to do anything He asks and give Him anything He wants. Sounds impossible, right? Yet if you’ve ever prayed, “I don’t care what it takes, God, make me everything that You want me to be,” then you have already done what you think is impossible. Even if God were to show up tomorrow with some terrifying request and you shrank back from Him like a carnal coward, it would not negate the sincerity of your previous prayer. God is thrilled when we put Him first in our lives. Putting God first comes down to a core attitude, not a lifetime of perfect behaviors. Anyone can succeed at putting God first in life, no matter how much carnal baggage they are dragging about.
The moment we invite God to have His total way with us, we have moved Him to the highest possible throne in our hearts. We have declared His satisfaction to be the most important thing to us. We have publicly exalted Him in front of all the angels in Heaven. Is God pleased with this? He most certainly is. This is why Satan will try so hard to convince us that just the opposite is true—that God is annoyed with our lack of progress and that He is constantly finding fault with us. This is simply not true. God looks past our impossible flesh and fickle emotions and He responds to the true desires of our soul. It’s just not possible for you to plead for God to have His total way with you, and then end up on His list of bitter disappointments.
Asking God to have His total way with us is the greatest offering we humans can bring Him. Nothing pleases God more than when His creatures come to Him in desperate longing, fully acknowledging that they are totally incapable of doing anything of value on their own. We serve a God who delights in dependency. He wants creatures who are frail and helpless. Maturity has nothing to do with learning how to do more for God—instead it is about embracing our desperate need for Him, and growing past the fear that He finds our total dependency to be some kind of burden.
God is not human, and the kind of relationship He wants with us is completely dysfunctional by human standards. If we were to approach other people the way that God wants us to approach Him, we would completely suffocate them. But God is a limitless Being with infinite resources, and the more souls He has depending on Him, the happier He is. Notice that God didn’t just stop with Adam and Eve. He has made zillions of high maintenance humans, and every day He is creating thousands more. Human parents burn out just trying to keep up with the physical needs of a single infant, yet God has all of our needs weighing on Him and He finds it exhilarating. What frustrates Him is when we refuse to acknowledge just what a delightful burden we are to Him. When we try to pretend that we can take care of ourselves without Him, He feels miffed and unappreciated. While Satan tries to convince us that God wishes we could contribute more to our own spiritual development, God is eager for us to see that we can’t contribute anything at all. We can pray and ask for Him to do everything for us, and then we’re fresh out of options. Wanting God is the beginning and end of what we have to offer Him, and He loves it. So when Satan comes around telling you how God wishes you would step it up in the striving department, you need to blow him off like the windbag that he is. As long as you sincerely want God to have His total way in your life, He is having it, regardless of how bad things might look to you. Trust the fact that He didn’t make any mistakes in your design. He made you a helpless being, because that’s exactly what He wanted. He alone controls the rate of your spiritual maturity. There is nothing you can do to speed up the process, because you’re already giving Him everything you’ve got. The best thing for you to do now is to focus on how very simple pleasing God has turned out to be.
The brothers at church are going to keep telling you that if you’re not stressing and striving, then you’re spiritually stagnating. This is the logic people get stuck in when they refuse to acknowledge their total dependency on God. There’s no need for you to get stuck with them, because you’ve learned better. It’s very freeing to realize all that you’re not, and it’s downright thrilling to realize that a little half-speck like you is succeeding at bringing great joy to the heart of an Almighty King.