The Biggest Threat to Your Spiritual Growth is You

Written By Veena Kuruvilla, Singapore

I am an adoptive parent of a beautiful girl, and over the last seven years, both my husband and I have been tickled pink unwrapping this absolute gift of a life that we get to raise together.

Her baby baldness surrendering to give way for silky straight hair that always fetches attention. Almond-shaped eyes that dance and try to keep up with her mouth and mind, both of which are on a never-ending marathon. Her innate sense of cool. With my curly hair, tiny eyes, and relatively unhip vibes, we couldn’t look more different. So, when I am told she resembles me in my mannerisms, my joy knows no bounds.

This makes me wonder how much it must delight our perfect Father in heaven when we embrace Christ’s Lordship over our lives and begin to slowly let go of our fleshly nature and walk in the Spirit. Does His heart swell with joy when we forgive one another freely and fully for the first time? How about when we no longer allow lust to linger or when we rejoice through rejection?

How can we pursue this transformation—to truly grow more in His likeness in these ways and others, with each passing day?

Romans 8:5 tells us, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.”

I have found the biggest threat to my spiritual growth to be me, trying to work out the challenges I face by my own flesh. I have wasted much time trying to find answers on websites instead of God’s Word. Instead of surrendering problems in prayer, I have resisted every holy nudge and battled hard on my own.

But God gracefully reminds us that we are chosen irrefutably to be His children (Ephesians 1:5). We are not cast away without hope, or left to be defined by stains of defeat and shame. We are brought close by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 1:13), for the purpose of receiving God’s Spirit (Ephesians 2:22). Though our nature sometimes threatens to halt our growth, the moment we decide to confess, repent, and return to Him, God is faithful to continue growing us in Christlikeness.

Our spiritual growth and transformation does not happen the instant we put our trust in Christ. It is a life-long process. Even so, there are a few things that can help us intentionally pursue God’s hand over our spiritual formation through the thrills and the trials.

Trying to continue growing our family through adoption has been unsuccessful, and through the heartache we have held fast to what we know to be true, drawing from the depths of God’s lovingkindness and tender mercies on a day to day basis.

 

Prayer Hinged on God’s Will

Our resilience is found in pressing on in prayer. Jesus, the Son of God prayed. He prayed before He started His ministry. He prayed through His many miracles. He prayed in solitude and among others. He prayed that He be spared the cross, but that His Father’s will be done. Jesus Christ prayed with expectation and confidence anchored in the Hearer of His prayers.

So even with two attempts at adoption not having worked out, and as we find ourselves wanting and despairing, we pray. We choose to praise an all-powerful, all-knowing, and unchanging God through the tears. We bend our knees in prayer and declare His worthiness above our circumstances to our aching hearts, trusting that every pain can be repurposed in the hands of the One who holds eternity. We pray not to change God’s mind, but to align our desires with His perfect will, just as Christ did in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42).

 

Sharpness from God’s Word

Being in the Word is a privilege that can cut deep. It reveals our sins, and if we obey it, can slice away sin wherever it has taken hold of us. Ever get into your quiet time and have the sentence, do not be wise in your own eyes (Romans 12:16), give you a knock on the head? No? Just me then!

God’s Word has power to permeate through and regenerate the callous corners of our mind. It can correct. God’s Word can also help us fight the enemy and His onslaught of lies like Jesus did in the wilderness.

When my daughter asks why God is being unfair to her and holding back from granting her a sibling, we go back to God together and discover the many promises He has made to those who place their trust in Him.

 

Fortified Walls of the Holy Spirit

The Helper—the Holy Spirit—is ever-present and willing to guard us in thought, word, and deed. As we seek God in obedience, allowing God’s Word to renew our minds, our flesh will learn to listen to and follow the Spirit’s leading.

Through the days that followed the adoption that miscarried, I have been reminded over and over again that He is with me and that I am not forsaken. As I try to get on with my day and its demands, He has made me recall scripture in fragments, assuring me that He is carrying our burden, that He has in store for our family that which will truly satisfy, and that one day sorrow and sighing will flee away and we will revel in everlasting joy. During our times of weaknesses, He cries out on our behalf (Romans 8:26-27). And by His help alone, we learn to magnify and make glorious the name of God.

 

No matter the season, may we be always found choosing prayer. May we expectantly position our hearts to receive the truth in His Word. And then, may we welcome His Spirit to protect and guide us so that we would carry Him to the ends of our neighborhoods, schools, and offices; to the midst of those play dates, meetings, and WhatsApp groups; to the difficult, doubting, and despairing. Just like Jesus.

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