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  • Oh, the things that keep me up at night….

    I had been reconsidering my last few blog entries and was shocked and dismayed by the self-centeredness of them. Me, me, me… I, I, I…. my feelings, my abilities, my perceptions. Good grief! No wonder I’m not becoming more like Christ: I’m beholding my own reflection continually. Too much navel gazing!

    This week, I was ready to read Chapter 4 and then blog ALL ABOUT GOD. But then here’s this quote right off the hop:

    “We must begin by knowing ourselves and where we are right now.”

    What? That sounds so self-focused again, and I meant to get away from that!

    But, I had really just interrupted Darryl Dash’s paragraph, as I am wont to do in reading as much as in real life. He continues:

    “As we grow, it also helps to assess where we are, so that we can take the appropriate steps to progress to the next stage and be encouraged by the progress we’ve already made.”

    Oh. Well, I do hear that point and agree, especially in the “be encouraged by the progress we’ve already made” section. I don’t do that. I find that part very challenging. My eyes are always fixed on two things: the finish line, which still seems interminably, impossibly, unattainably far away, and the first many miles behind me and all the times I tripped and fell down, or should have run faster, or could have trained better, and so on. That’s the paralyzing bit. And that’s not what Dash is encouraging.

    The kind of ‘Self-knowledge’ that Darryl Dash recommends in this chapter comes with a helpful little flow-chart-type-diagram (Three cheers for flow charts!). It is a map of sorts with descriptions of what you could look like depending on where you might be at in your spiritual journey. Are you at a spiritual point of Pre-questioning, Questioning, Believing, Growing, Mentoring, or Maturing? He gives some insight on how to assess that and how to progress from one point to the next. This is an encouraging exercise, actually, as it does force your eyes off of yourself (even as you are looking square AT yourself) and onto what only God could have done in you. Regardless of which spiritual stage you find yourself at, it is pretty clear you didn’t drag yourself there on your own strength or merit. Dash finishes the chapter with the God-focus I need in all of this self-assessment. He writes:

    “God is at work. He creates curiosity among the Pre-Questioning; He takes the Questioning and woos them to Jesus; He transforms the Believing to the Growing. He then takes the Growing who think they have nothing to offer and leads them to Mentoring. Eventually, we become less impressed with ourselves and more impressed with Jesus and discover that we’re Maturing. There’s hope for each stage (emphasis mine). We can celebrate our progress, help those who are behind us and with us, learn from those who are ahead of us, and take the next step. As long as we’re alive, God invites us to grow and to take the next step.”

    What an encouraging finale to this chapter! Dash makes it clear that we never stop growing. That means that we never totally “arrive” at whatever picture of total maturity we are hoping for. I’m tempted to be discouraged by that. I really want to ‘get it’. As much as Pastor Jude says he’ll hang with the dog’s breakfast types, I’d really prefer at some point to at least FEEL like the cat’s pyjamas. However, that’s that bad self-looking again, and we’re working ourselves away from that, right? Ahem. We never stop growing until the day the Lord takes us home, and then we don’t need to grow, per se, because he will have made all things new in us. What a joy! And what a hope! And what a worth-waiting-for transformation! I can work slow and steady with THAT end goal in mind and with the knowledge that Christ doesn’t intend for me to claw and fight and struggle my way to that day on my own. No: His Spirit is at work in me (even when I don’t sense it) and God will be glorified in the how and when of my growth as He sees fit.

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