“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Spiritual Growth: Linear vs. Spiral

I spoke to a precious gal at my church the other day who is interested in getting a mentor.  (I help pair mentors and mentorees at my church.) But she quietly and politely asked for a mentor who would be "okay" with the fact that she wasn't going to be able to change too quickly.  That they wouldn't mind having to ask the same questions and not shame her into rushing through the growth that she longs for... and it reminded me of something I learned last year:
Most of us expect our spiritual growth to be linear. (See graphic above.)  
    We have "a" weakness.
                                      We deal with it.
                                                                We are done with it.
                            If that weakness happens to appear, again, ??a??
                  We determine that we never really dealt with it.
          That we are still weak.
    That we haven't made any progress.  At all.
And just, perhaps, we are even moving backwards.

But what if we considered that our spiritual growth is more like an upward spiral coil.  Where we are constantly growing and maturing in our faith.  And as we grow upward, we learn something "a" and we continue to spiral upward in our faith.  But when we revisit "a" again we realize that we are actually dealing with it, but at a different level.  And perhaps God brings us through it for another visit to refine us or make us complete in our journey.  Who knows... perhaps even to help someone else.

For me, I can experience this with my depression.  If I looked at my spiritual growth as linear, each time that I experienced my depression, I would think that I didn't deal with it properly the first time.  Or that I will never really overcome it.  But if I look at it in the light of the upward spiral growth, I would see that each time I have a bout with depression thanks-be-to-God it is less severe and does not last as long and I use what I have learned previously to help me through it.

This could apply to addictions.  Or perhaps loneliness.  Or gossip.  Or any area of weakness.  As a mentor I need to see this in my mentorees.  And I need to see this in myself.  Knowing that God is constantly refining us.  Constantly growing us.  

I pray that these visuals help you if you struggle with wondering if you are truly maturing in your relationship with Christ.  Stay in the Scriptures.  Continue to Pray.  Fellowship with other believers.  Memorize or meditate on scripture.  Take a Bible Study.  Or who knows... find a godly mentor who will help you along the way as you seek to be more like Christ in your daily life.

"We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so,
because your faith is growing more and more, 
and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing."  
2 Thessalonians 1:3 NIV84


Kathi Woodall said...

I came across a Messianic Jew several years ago that taught something I have often remembered since... The Hebrew mindset thinks cyclical. (Seasons, moons, life, etc.) The Greek mindset - the greatest influence of western thinking - is linear. The Hebrew mindset is more in line with God's creation, including His creation of us, than is the Greek mindset. What you've shared here is yet another great application for this comparison. Thanks, friend!

JoAnn said...

Really good word! Helping me for where I am right now.... :)