The Process of Spiritual Growth is Tough and Time Consuming - But It's Always Worth It!
Last fall I took a day off to go to the mountains to have some extended time alone with God. I walked away with two statements that He had laid on my heart: "Be healthy. Be holy." In January, our pastors encouraged the church body to pray and ask God for a one-word theme for the year. For me, the word was "health," and the same two statements from my day in the mountains stayed in the forefront of my thoughts.
Knowing that God has charged me with concentrating on my physical and spiritual health, I started a plan to lose weight and get in better shape, and I've done pretty well (up until the last few weeks). I've also spent more time in His Word and in prayer. On both fronts, I've seen results, but it has taken time for me to notice measurable results. I know that I'm not going to improve - spiritually or physically - overnight, so I'm in it for the long haul, particularly when it comes to my weight loss goals.
In our culture of instant gratification, we want everything to happen right now, but we can't lose sight of the fact that spiritual discipline takes time and effort. I often think that too many people give up on discipleship and growth because they don't see results as quickly as they feel they ought to.
The process of spiritual growth is tough and time-consuming, but it's worth it every time! Earlier this week I read a quote from C. S. Lewis where he touched on patience with the discipleship process, especially the concept of resisting the temptation to sin:
You may remember I said that the first step towards humility was to realise that one is proud. I want to add now that the next step is to make some serious attempt to practise the Christian virtues. A week is not enough. Things often go swimmingly for the first week. Try six weeks. By that time, having, as far as one can see, fallen back completely or even fallen lower than the point one began from, one will have discovered some truths about oneself. No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good. A silly idea is current that good people do not know what temptation means. This is an obvious lie. Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is. After all, you find out the strength of the German army by fighting against it, not by giving in. You find out the strength of a wind by trying to walk against it, not by lying down. A man who gives in to temptation after five minutes simply does not know what it would have been like an hour later. That is why bad people, in one sense, know very little about badness. They have lived a sheltered life by always giving in. We never find out the strength of the evil impulse inside us until we try to fight it: and Christ, because He was the only man who never yielded to temptation, is also the only man who knows to the full what temptation means—the only complete realist.