The process of faith has always fascinated me. The growth spurts and seasons of question... the way God is always faithful to those who seek His face, seek to be more like him. I'm coming out of one such, year long, intense search.
Like a spiral which circles quickly at the center yet more slowly the farther out you go, such seems to be the Christian walk as our faith is tested and our understanding discovered. Our lessons are easy(ish) and relatively fast early on. But the longer you walk by faith the more complex the tests seem to be, requiring more time for proper discernment.
The challenge this past year has been location. location. location. In which has been the necessity of spiritual discernment, answering the whys of life and seeking to FEEL completely in His presence and work completely in his grace and guidance.
- Location, geographically... why Billings, Lord? When you called us out of the field to be tent-makers and outreachers, of all the places to send us.... why Billings? I so missed the views from 'home'.
- Location, ministry... where are we meant to minister? In our home, on the street, in a church.... door #3? Now that we aren't full-time missionaries, where do we serve?
- Location spiritually... who am I as a mature Christian? I don't need the restraints of law... but where can I walk and related to the world yet still be in your will? ......
The last question, honestly, has been most recently prominent and perplexing. I don't mind being different as a Christian.... I've always marched to the beat of my own drummer.... but where am I too different and removing myself from being able to speak into another's life? Where do I become un-relational? It came to the forefront at Christmastime.
I LOVE surrounding myself with EVERYTHING Christmas in December. Decorations, dress, music, food, schoolwork, and t.v. We don't subscribe to cable or satellite, instead we opt for the greater control (and cheaper monthly) Netflix. This is my first year with Netflix on my t.v. and I began to browse everything Christmas they had to offer. I saved interesting tid-bits to my 'library' and when opportunity arose, I watched them throughout December.
Many movies were ABC Family, so I figured: safe.... right? I will admit they were cleaner than NON-Family movies, but some of them dealt with single woman who went out for drinks, flirted unabashedly, dressed rather risky and suggestions to pre-marital sex. The milder and equally distracting content was the chasing after of worldly things... STUFF... and desires vs. seeking God's will and guidance in all of life's decisions, a more realistic aspect for a Christian worldview. I was truly uncomfortable and, even though I walked a similar path in my young adult secular years, it is a path I would never re-walk.... definitely not one I want to encourage my children to walk. So, to what point are these movies and my thoughts and intrigues appropriate and at one point do I start down a path which is quite difficult to come back from? I'm reminded of the old saying:
Sin will take you farther than you want to go,
Keep you longer than you want to stay,
Cost you more than you want to pay.
Is it a sin to watch those t.v. shows? They didn't show any explicit scenes. Perhaps no. However, if it causes my mind to travel a path separate from God, then I have to step back and gauge where I am standing. Jesus is clear in Matthew 5:27-30, to think it is to do it, and while his grace covers so much more than we deserve, do I deliberately want to walk down a path which leads to unhappiness, dis-satisfaction and even influences my household in the same? After all, a mind distracted by worldly things it cannot reach is not set to the joy and fulfillment of the Lord.
I struggled with this question. Not wanting to be a prude yet not wanting to give the impression of sin in my life, even if it is not something I do. You can imagine my joy when I finally received a clear answer this past week. It came in the form of a blog post I stumbled upon through singer Jamie Grace. Her mom, Mama Mona Harper, shared 3 Quick Tips for Mothers With Daughters: Now Taking Orders (I shared it on Facebook after I read it).
Mama Mona inspired and encouraged me most when she stated:
I didn’t tell my daughters to ignore the world, I gave them the Word. I simply lifted and sacrificially lived Christ before them. I showed them something awesome to glean. I was different from my peers, I was peculiar and so were they. They still are. I didn’t look like mainstream women because I danced to a different drum beat,...
I suddenly felt peace. No matter how Christian we get, we can never have too much Christ! Do I need to divulge in the world to understand the world? No, I don't think so. Human nature is rather similar no matter where you are, no matter what you do. We were all created by God and that is the baseline I need to focus on. How else will the world tell me apart?
I'm grateful for these growth points. For times when my faith is able to tread the long path of understanding and discovery because at the end of each of these searching journeys, I find myself one step closer to Jesus and the view is marvelous!
In case you wondered about my other two location points.... I can't explain it except to say God just gave me a peace that I am right.where.I.need.to.be. and where He is, that is good enough for me!
Blessings to you as you travel the spiral of the walk in spiritual life. I pray you find yourself one-step-closer at the end of your path.