Becoming spiritually mature used to be on my BUCKET LIST. Honest! Here’s the very short version of that story.
The beginning of my spiritual journey started in the Membership Class 101 at Saddleback Church in the 1990s. All I really wanted was the church membership card so I could tell people at cocktail parties I was a member! It’s true.
Trying to put God first seemed a million miles away for me. I was chasing the world’s definition of success at the time—prestige and possessions—at the expense of more important goals involving my faith in Christ. With each surge of stress and the addition of yet another layer of ambition, I figured my move toward God could come later. But of course it never happened that way and that’s when I threw God on my life’s BUCKET LIST.
At the end of the membership class, my angst was quieted by a Type-A resolve to get things done. I actually signed up for Spiritual Maturity Class 201 that day and set a goal to ride the four-hour conveyer belt to wake up the next day spiritually mature! Wrong, of course. God had had another plan. He helped me understand that spiritual maturity was a lifelong process and not a final destination.
My silly delusion of becoming spiritually mature with a snap of the fingers was replaced by the truth that it is a continuing process of first committing to God and then moving ever closer to him every day through surrender and obedience.
THE UGLY TRUTH
My time in that spiritual maturity class was not a pretty sight, especially during the section on PRAYER because I had never prayed. Next up was the BIBLE which I knew less about than prayer. Then we tackled TITHING and I was calling for the paramedics to zap me with the defibrillator paddles! Finally, there was FELLOWSHIP where my crazy thinking had me trapped in in a home with a cup of red juice as I desperately wanted to go home and watch TV.
Other than all of that, I was looking pretty good on the spiritual maturity scale!
Thankfully, God had it all under control and there was an incredibly happy ending. What Pastor Tom Holladay’s Class 201 taught me was that spiritual maturity is a pathway to an intimate relationship with God. A pathway that can be accessed by anyone at any time. A pathway to purpose and joy. And the great news was that I did not have to be perfect! I just needed to take the very small first step toward God. Inspired and directed by his Word, that’s exactly what I did:
“Take the time and the trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit.” 1 Timothy 4:7
For me, it was a choice between two pathways: 1) Merely existing in my strive-and-stress prison; or 2) Living with purpose and joy in God’s inner sanctuary. I chose the latter, tore up my BUCKET LIST, and have been blessed ever since.