During one of the first sermons our pastor gave this year, he made a pretty bold statement for our church. He said that this year was going to be a year of tremendous spiritual growth, both personally and as a church body. "Gateway, this is YOUR year for growth!" I remember him saying it with such confidence.
The best part about that statement was that God had already been speaking to my heart about the exact same thing. He had already told me personally, "Cari, this is your year for tremendous growth!" Hearing my pastor say that only confirmed what the Lord had already told me. So I accepted that truth with a pretty positive outlook.
Growth never looks the way you expect. I remember as a child, experiencing "growing pains" whenever my limbs were being stretched a few inches. They never felt fun at the time, but in the end I was still growing.
I have definitely grown spiritually in the past eleven months, but I have also experienced my fair share of pain as well. I lost a friend. I've had some tough conversations. I've been misunderstood. I've been bolder which is an amazingly terrifying thing for me. I've missed some opportunities. I have let people down. People have let me down. I have made some pretty big mistakes.
I have also learned from those mistakes. I have been more broken over the lives of those I love than ever before. I have learned how to be a better friend. I hear the Lord's voice more clearly than I ever have. I have not only been obedient but I am more excited about it than ever before. I have been stretched, my friends. And I am grateful, because I am indeed, growing.
During a particular time in my life my sister shared with me a song by Gateway Worship called 139, based on the Psalm. It has since become one of my favorites and I return to it time and time again, anytime I need encouragement. It was a prayer she sang over me, and in many ways I believe it was the beginning of this "season of growth."
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed this over the past year. It's not an easy prayer because lets face it, if you ask God to show you what needs improvement, he will. He'll show it to you even if you don't ask! But if you are faced with this conflict let me encourage you: the pain is worth it. It can be embarrassing, seeing who you really are. But it is downright humbling, seeing who God knows you can be.
Don't just see who you are through God's eyes. Act upon it. Listen to the Holy Spirit. It might not seem easy on the surface, and it may come with it's own seasons of pain and growth, but finding out who God has intended you to be is an adventure worth exploring...
Thanks for reading.