In my short span of life thus far, I’ve found that the Christian faith comes in all shapes, sizes, and stages. We never stop the learning process, the drifting process, the roller coaster we call the “Christian Walk”. Just when you think you’ve got it all together, you realize you don’t. It can be a very discouraging road at times, and even as Christians we are capable of making huge mistakes. But do not fear. God knows we aren’t perfect, and God never leaves our side.
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
From birth, I was taken to church where Sunday school teaches you all the basics. Jesus was born in a manger and died on the cross; Daniel survived the dangerous lions den; Jonah was swallowed up by a fish; Palm Sunday means you get to cut up green construction paper and wave it at your classmates; and Zacchaeus was a wee little man, a wee little man was he. We knew it all, and we weren’t afraid to say we believed in Jesus and talk about it to anyone and everyone.
Then you move up into junior and senior high. In high school is where I felt I truly came into my own. I was super involved in youth group, went on as many church trips as I could, did all the Bible studies available, and ta-da!! I didn’t struggle with peer pressure! Gee, I sure am glad I loved Jesus back then! But then, plot twist: after high school came the independent world of college…
“Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” Hebrews 2:1
Alas, the crazy stage where the “out of sight, out of mind” lie creeps in. I learned a few things in those four years. 1. Alcohol can really get you into trouble. 2. It is absolutely true that Satan works long term. I started out committing “harmless sins” my freshman year that turned into harmful habits by my senior year. 3. Cutting out church, prayer, time in the Word, and Christian fellowship (especially all at once) is deadly. When you’re not spending time with God and you aren’t surrounding yourself with friends that will hold you accountable for it, you stand no chance. Thankfully, if we are true children of God, He won’t let us go far. But that doesn’t mean that we’re safe from learning a few lessons the hard way.
“All the ways of a man are clean in his own sight, But the LORD weighs the motives.” Proverbs 16:2
Next came the self-righteous Christian stage. This stage is dangerous because it can cause us to come off as judgmental and “holier-than-thou”. It’s the stage that gives nonbelievers a bad taste in their mouths. I slowly began obtaining more information about the gospel, and everyone around me suddenly got on my nerves. I felt so overwhelmed by the grace I was being shown that I forgot to show others that same grace. I didn’t understand why everyone else wasn’t on my same level or wasn’t accepting the information I had to share. What I was forgetting is that we don’t choose God, God chooses us when He wants to and how He wants to.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.”
We’re all at different stages in our faith. Some have been on the path a long time, some a short time, and some aren’t walking at all. What we are called to do is be like Jesus and spread the Word, not just with our actions but with our tongues as well. Patience and grace are pivotal to our growth in Jesus. 9-year-old Lauren thought she had it going on, 18-year-old Lauren knew how to say no, 21-year-old Lauren didn’t, and 26-year-old Lauren thinks she feels secure in His grace and mercy, but I can guarantee you that 40-, 50-, and 60-year-old Lauren will look back and laugh at how little I actually know.
Here’s the good news: we never stop growing. Here’s some more good news: pressure’s off – as long as we live on this earth, we can never attain full knowledge of Truth. Paul tells us that Christ gave us apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers to equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11–13). Until Jesus returns and brings us all home, we continue to work as the Body of Christ. But then and only then will we be given full knowledge and become like Jesus. For now, we pray, read, worship, fellowship together, and endure these stages until we reach our final stage: fullness of life in heaven.
Image via: @abbrosy #belovedlife