Wednesday, September 28, 2016

How God Uses Discouragement to Grow Us

When growth seemed to elude me, in a second’s madness of exasperation, I threw my hands in the air and asked God, “What’s the use…? I can’t do it, Lord. I have not grown! I cannot please You with my growth.”
And His Holy Spirit said, “Oh, be gentle… you, however, are correct, of course. You cannot please Me with your growth… you can only please me by My growth in you.”
Subtle and significant difference.  Massive course correction.
We cannot please God with our growth;
we can only please God by His growth in us.
It occurred to me recently that there are two forms of growth in a Christian’s discipleship: 1) instant growth through a commitment to change — classic repentance; and, 2) slow, arduous, painful growth over usually two to five years — classic transformation.
Repentance begins in a moment; the outworking of repentance brings transformation.
It’s to the second form of growth we find most discouraging, having obeyed God in the first place to turn from inappropriate practices. But discouragement has its place. It’s vital. First, before we can grow, in this new area of flawdom, we need to come to the end of ourselves. God needs to crush that self-reliance out of us. Or, we need to experience the burning rage of our ‘disappointing’ God, first hand. Then He shows us our folly. Sure we’re a disappointment to Him, but not for the reason we think. God’s not disappointed by our lack of growth. He’s disappointed because we aren’t trusting Him. He’s disappointed because we regarding Him so lowly that we think that through our pride we can do what only He can do. He’s disappointed because we’ve bought into a lie.  
Our growth is not about us!
It’s about Him. It always is.
If growth was easy, and could be achieved quickly, we’d take credit for it. God doesn’t need the credit, but He knows if we don’t give Him genuine credit by hiding our acclaim, we become conceited. This is why growth is hard and takes a long time — so we don’t become conceited. We might still get conceited, but God knows how unimpressive our own perception of our growth is to all around us. Nobody believes us. It backfires. So why bother to endeavour to convince them?
Genuine growth takes years because that’s the only way others can see change in us. It’s how God works — not over the months, but the years.
It’s as if God is saying to us, “Please stop stressing so much about your growth. If you’ll allow Me to do a work in you, I will need time, because I’m working with you — a flawed human being.  So please be gentle with yourself… take the pressure down… and don’t hide behind your false humility of, I can’t do it, Lord. I have not grown! I cannot please You with my growth.  I will show you your growth over the years. Please Me simply by trusting Me. I have promised You to complete the work.[1] Trust Me to do it.”
So, in a mood of personal reprisal — a man in receipt of God’s rebuke — I commend to you what I believe God is saying to us, by way of personal example, in our frustration for a lack of growth.
To repent takes a decision,
but to grow takes thousands of them.
Discouragement in our growth in God is a sign; that we’re anticipating growth in our own power. Discouragement shows us our lack of relying on God. But growth is impossible in our own power. It’s only possible in God’s power.
May God truly bless you as you expect less of yourself and expect more of His grace,
Steve Wickham.

[1] See 1 Thessalonians 5:24.

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