Maturing

I got an unexpected phone call from a dear friend of mine awhile ago. I happened to be completely alone and in a perfect place to talk, so we spent about 20 minutes or so deep in conversation. It was the most edifying conversation I’d had in a long, long time. And truthfully, that was the best way to describe it. Edifying. Every time I’m with this particular friend — A Mature Godly Woman — either in person or on the phone, I leave completely uplifted, encouraged and edified. I leave feeling fed. Feeling equipped. Feeling called. And that particular day, I hung up the phone with such hope, joy and anticipation…elated…like I was walking on air.

“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” (Proverbs 27:9, NLT)



And then.


I immediately had an interaction that was totally the opposite. The negativity left an ick all over me that I couldn’t shake fast enough. It had an odor to it, a distaste that was palpable. The unpleasant and depressing nature of the interaction almost knocked the wind out of my sails.


Almost.


As I was left alone with my thoughts after two such extreme and ironic examples, I realized something had instantaneously ignited a fire in my soul: a need be more like my friend. Not just a wanting to be more mature or godly or encouraging…but a real need to become that person.


It’s all I think about.

“Happy is the man who does not walk in the way sinful men tell him to, or stand in the path of sinners, or sit with those who laugh at the truth. But he finds joy in the Law of the Lord and thinks about His Law day and night. This man is like a tree planted by rivers of water, which gives its fruit at the right time and its leaf never dries up. Whatever he does will work out well for him.” (Psalm 1:1-3, NLV)



Since that day, I’ve heard several unsolicited testimonies from people who shared similar stories of A Mature Godly Woman and what an impact she left on them. A prophetic and encouraging word that literally saved her life from a woman she just met only moments before. A friend who just grabbed her hands to pray in the coffee shop. The mentor who was able to cut through facade to call out the real issue, making the way for healing, growth and maturity. Women who compel you by their love of Christ. Women you don’t put on a pedestal, but admire for their godly characteristics…the same godly characteristics that leave you convicted about your own carnal ones.

“When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.” (Proverbs 31:26, MSG)


I’ve been the recipient of having relationship with several Mature Godly Women too many times to count. It’s rather unfair, to be honest. I’ve been fed, blessed, prayed on, encouraged, edified and uplifted. I’ve received and received and received. I know first-hand the amazing peace and joy that is awash over me for days after an encounter with them. Women, who while walking in the Spirit daily, sense the prompting of the Lord to do and say and be what He’s leading at any given moment.



“All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters.” (Romans 8:14, NLV) 



Most importantly, women who aren’t afraid to do and say and be what He’s leading at any given moment.


And there it is. The F-word that keeps me from maturing:


Fear.


Fear of alienating people who might not understand. Fear of alienating people who don’t want to understand. Fear people will think I consider myself better than them, even though that’s not the case at all. Fear that I’ll try and fail. Fear God will call me to let go of things I have a pretty firm grip on. Fear I won’t be able to let go at all. 


And mostly, fear I won’t have the discipline required to get there.


Fear, fear, fear.

“Have I not commanded you?<sup class="xref" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(B)”> Be strong and courageous.<sup class="xref" style="font-weight: bold; line-height: normal; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(C)”> Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, ESV)

But what’s driving me now, more than the fear (finally) is the need. I can’t find a way to really explain it. I simply need to mature past my childish ways. I need to let go of negativity and petty offenses. I need to get beyond myself in order to be fully myself.


Does that make sense?


It’s a need to be obedient.


I guess a simpler way to put it is “It’s Time.”


There seems to be a specific point (or several specific points) in a Christian’s life (or maybe just mine, lucky you) where God has had enough and He calls you (me) out. It’s a tangible time when God is gently, yet firmly, saying: 

“That’s enough. You were created for more than this. You’re settling for good and I’m calling you to great. You’re not where you should be. I really, really, REALLY don’t want you to miss out on what I have planned. It’s so good…you have no idea, it’s so good. So please, let’s go. I love you and I’m with you. It’s time.”



It’s Time to fully engage. It’s Time to set aside my insecurity and fear and awkwardness and just be ready to move forward.


It’s Time.


And so now comes the hard part: 

  • What do I do? How do I do it? 
  • Is there one big moment I’m supposed to look out for? 
  • Is it saying no when I want to say yes…and saying yes when I want to say no? 
  • Is it a series of daily choices that seem small but add up to big character changes? 
  • Is it recognizing an opportunity when the Holy Spirit quietly and gently nudges me to it? 
  • Is it ignoring my impulse to punch someone in the face for offending me or someone I love, and choosing to pray for them instead?
  • Is it (gulp) being disciplined?

And when I ask these questions of God, I get one answer:


Yes.


Yes to looking out for big moments. Yes to making small choices each day. Yes to recognizing opportunities that come in a still small voice.

“Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: ‘This is the right road. Walk down this road.'”(Isaiah 30:21, MSG)

Yes to discipline. Yes to believing that God has a purpose and a plan beyond what I think I deserve. And then choosing to receive it, even if I feel unworthy, ill-equipped or too sinful.

“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it—what God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, MSG)

And most important, yes to prayer. Yes to praying day-by-day (or hour-by-hour, or minute-by-minute) for the strength to resist my carnal impulses and urges. Yes to praying for a heart to pray for those who’ve hurt me instead of avenging in my heart. Yes to praying that I won’t participate in gossip, slander or negativity even though it’s so easy to jump in and go along with it. Yes to praying that I will stop and pray instead of immediately reacting when something happens. Yes to praying that I’ll recognize when the tests and trials of this exact nature come…knowing that nothing of God is worth anything until it’s been through the fire.

“I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure.” (1 Peter 1:6-7a, MSG)



It’s seeing that person in my mind’s eye that I want to be…and allowing her to emerge slowly and intentionally, in a process that comes about solely in a choice-by-choice manner.


This post has been a month in the making; working on it a little here and a little there. I think part of the reason it’s taken me so long is because I know for a fact that once I click “publish post,” it means GAME ON for me and this journey. But just today, I had to really struggle with my flesh about something. And the easiest way for me to wrestle through my spirit and flesh is to write. 


So I wrote and re-wrote. 


And then I cried. And that’s when I knew it was time to publish it. When there are tears involved, it is complete.


And now that it’s complete, It’s Time.

“The LORD your God is going before you. He will fight for you just as he fought for you in Egypt while you watched, and as you saw him do in the desert. Throughout your entire journey, until you reached this very place, the LORD your God has carried you just as a parent carries a child.” (Deuteronomy 1:30-31, CEB)

At least I’m not alone.

Maturing

I got an unexpected phone call from a dear friend of mine awhile ago. I happened to be completely alone and in a perfect place to talk, so we spent about 20 minutes or so deep in conversation. It was the most edifying conversation I’d had in a long, long time. And truthfully, that was the best way to describe it. Edifying. Every time I’m with this particular friend — A Mature Godly Woman — either in person or on the phone, I leave completely uplifted, encouraged and edified. I leave feeling fed. Feeling equipped. Feeling called. And that particular day, I hung up the phone with such hope, joy and anticipation…elated…like I was walking on air.

“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” (Proverbs 27:9, NLT)



And then.


I immediately had an interaction that was totally the opposite. The negativity left an ick all over me that I couldn’t shake fast enough. It had an odor to it, a distaste that was palpable. The unpleasant and depressing nature of the interaction almost knocked the wind out of my sails.


Almost.


As I was left alone with my thoughts after two such extreme and ironic examples, I realized something had instantaneously ignited a fire in my soul: a need be more like my friend. Not just a wanting to be more mature or godly or encouraging…but a real need to become that person.


It’s all I think about.

“Happy is the man who does not walk in the way sinful men tell him to, or stand in the path of sinners, or sit with those who laugh at the truth. But he finds joy in the Law of the Lord and thinks about His Law day and night. This man is like a tree planted by rivers of water, which gives its fruit at the right time and its leaf never dries up. Whatever he does will work out well for him.” (Psalm 1:1-3, NLV)



Since that day, I’ve heard several unsolicited testimonies from people who shared similar stories of A Mature Godly Woman and what an impact she left on them. A prophetic and encouraging word that literally saved her life from a woman she just met only moments before. A friend who just grabbed her hands to pray in the coffee shop. The mentor who was able to cut through facade to call out the real issue, making the way for healing, growth and maturity. Women who compel you by their love of Christ. Women you don’t put on a pedestal, but admire for their godly characteristics…the same godly characteristics that leave you convicted about your own carnal ones.

“When she speaks she has something worthwhile to say, and she always says it kindly.” (Proverbs 31:26, MSG)


I’ve been the recipient of having relationship with several Mature Godly Women too many times to count. It’s rather unfair, to be honest. I’ve been fed, blessed, prayed on, encouraged, edified and uplifted. I’ve received and received and received. I know first-hand the amazing peace and joy that is awash over me for days after an encounter with them. Women, who while walking in the Spirit daily, sense the prompting of the Lord to do and say and be what He’s leading at any given moment.



“All who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s sons and daughters.” (Romans 8:14, NLV) 



Most importantly, women who aren’t afraid to do and say and be what He’s leading at any given moment.


And there it is. The F-word that keeps me from maturing:


Fear.


Fear of alienating people who might not understand. Fear of alienating people who don’t want to understand. Fear people will think I consider myself better than them, even though that’s not the case at all. Fear that I’ll try and fail. Fear God will call me to let go of things I have a pretty firm grip on. Fear I won’t be able to let go at all. 


And mostly, fear I won’t have the discipline required to get there.


Fear, fear, fear.

“Have I not commanded you?B)”> Be strong and courageous.C)”> Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9, ESV)

But what’s driving me now, more than the fear (finally) is the need. I can’t find a way to really explain it. I simply need to mature past my childish ways. I need to let go of negativity and petty offenses. I need to get beyond myself in order to be fully myself.


Does that make sense?


It’s a need to be obedient.


I guess a simpler way to put it is “It’s Time.”


There seems to be a specific point (or several specific points) in a Christian’s life (or maybe just mine, lucky you) where God has had enough and He calls you (me) out. It’s a tangible time when God is gently, yet firmly, saying: 

“That’s enough. You were created for more than this. You’re settling for good and I’m calling you to great. You’re not where you should be. I really, really, REALLY don’t want you to miss out on what I have planned. It’s so good…you have no idea, it’s so good. So please, let’s go. I love you and I’m with you. It’s time.”



It’s Time to fully engage. It’s Time to set aside my insecurity and fear and awkwardness and just be ready to move forward.


It’s Time.


And so now comes the hard part: 

  • What do I do? How do I do it? 
  • Is there one big moment I’m supposed to look out for? 
  • Is it saying no when I want to say yes…and saying yes when I want to say no? 
  • Is it a series of daily choices that seem small but add up to big character changes? 
  • Is it recognizing an opportunity when the Holy Spirit quietly and gently nudges me to it? 
  • Is it ignoring my impulse to punch someone in the face for offending me or someone I love, and choosing to pray for them instead?
  • Is it (gulp) being disciplined?

And when I ask these questions of God, I get one answer:


Yes.


Yes to looking out for big moments. Yes to making small choices each day. Yes to recognizing opportunities that come in a still small voice.

“Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: ‘This is the right road. Walk down this road.'”(Isaiah 30:21, MSG)

Yes to discipline. Yes to believing that God has a purpose and a plan beyond what I think I deserve. And then choosing to receive it, even if I feel unworthy, ill-equipped or too sinful.

“No one’s ever seen or heard anything like this, never so much as imagined anything quite like it—what God has arranged for those who love him. But you’ve seen and heard it because God by his Spirit has brought it all out into the open before you. The Spirit, not content to flit around on the surface, dives into the depths of God, and brings out what God planned all along. (1 Corinthians 2:9-10, MSG)

And most important, yes to prayer. Yes to praying day-by-day (or hour-by-hour, or minute-by-minute) for the strength to resist my carnal impulses and urges. Yes to praying for a heart to pray for those who’ve hurt me instead of avenging in my heart. Yes to praying that I won’t participate in gossip, slander or negativity even though it’s so easy to jump in and go along with it. Yes to praying that I will stop and pray instead of immediately reacting when something happens. Yes to praying that I’ll recognize when the tests and trials of this exact nature come…knowing that nothing of God is worth anything until it’s been through the fire.

“I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure.” (1 Peter 1:6-7a, MSG)



It’s seeing that person in my mind’s eye that I want to be…and allowing her to emerge slowly and intentionally, in a process that comes about solely in a choice-by-choice manner.


This post has been a month in the making; working on it a little here and a little there. I think part of the reason it’s taken me so long is because I know for a fact that once I click “publish post,” it means GAME ON for me and this journey. But just today, I had to really struggle with my flesh about something. And the easiest way for me to wrestle through my spirit and flesh is to write. 


So I wrote and re-wrote. 


And then I cried. And that’s when I knew it was time to publish it. When there are tears involved, it is complete.


And now that it’s complete, It’s Time.

“The LORD your God is going before you. He will fight for you just as he fought for you in Egypt while you watched, and as you saw him do in the desert. Throughout your entire journey, until you reached this very place, the LORD your God has carried you just as a parent carries a child.” (Deuteronomy 1:30-31, CEB)

At least I’m not alone.

Galatians 6:2 (Week 17)



Sooooo.


Last Monday’s post didn’t end up happening. I’m not entirely sure how, because I woke up Monday with every intention of writing it. But it seems I blinked and next thing I knew it was Friday. 


It’s ca-RAY-zee how that happens.


Needless to say, there’s a double-up of requests this week…so let’s hit the floor and start our praying!


Praise reports:


1. K has learned she will not need dialysis immediately for her kidney failure! She will need a living donor at some point, but is able to avoid dialysis at this point, which is an enormous praise for her!


2. K has been regularly attending church after many years away! Pray God would speak loudly, clearly and directly as she is slowly opening her heart to Him.


New requests:


1. T is one year old and is getting an MRI today to see if he’s been having seizures. Please pray for him, his family and the doctors as they test him today.


2. B’s father-in-law and cousin both are battling cancer. Pray for B so she knows how to pray and support them; and pray for them and their families during this time.


3. L is in the process of divorce. Please pray for her as she wearily walks this road.


4. S is in the process of divorce. Pray for him and his children during this time, that he would have wisdom and insight and peace.


5. L’s dad is experiencing the effects of the economy and will possibly have to sell a beloved and sentimental family home. Pray for the family that they would know the right steps as they walk out this journey.


6. P is recovering from a stroke, and need physical and mental healing.


7. D needs a job.


8. L needs prayers for her unborn child. She’s pregnant with twins, and one is having developmental problems that will require immediate surgery when she’s born. Pray for the mom as she carries these babies, pray for both the babies and for miraculous healing.


9. S is having difficulty in his marriage. Pray for he and his wife, and that God would restore their union.


10. M just had a spot of basal-cell carcinoma removed from her face that will require surgery and a skin graft to repair. Pray for immediate healing, and for supernatural peace for her.


11. M is walking through IVF and had embryos implanted last week. Pray for her and her husband as they await the outcome of the procedure, and for complete faith and trust in God regardless.


Ongoing Requests:


1. K is struggling with the situation with her niece and nephew. K needs provision a hundred-fold, wisdom and understanding. Her niece and nephew need Jesus, badly. They are struggling with anger and frustration toward their mother, and acting out at school and at home.

2. J is ignoring doctors orders regarding his health, and has started drinking and smoking again. His heart, kidneys and liver are operating at a fraction of their capacity, and friends are fearful he will die soon. Pray for a Damascus-road encounter with Jesus that will change everything for him. He lives with a lot of demons from his past, and his addictions are rooted in pain. He needs instantaneous and miraculous life changes.

3. J’s mom is recovering from a delibitating heart attack and stroke at home…but her health continues to fail. Every moment that J isn’t at work or with her family is spent with her mom, spending the nights there to help. Pray for strength for J — she’s extremely exhausted physically and emotionally and spiritually. Pray for miraculous healing for her mom if it’s the Lord’s will.
4. J has just had his third back surgery, but is not recovering as he should be. He’s in a tremendous amount of pain and doctors are trying to determine the cause. He is young and has a wife and two kids, all who are suffering with him. Pray for healing for him and for peace for his family.

5. C is back on drugs and alcohol and is daily risking the opportunity to get her infant son out of foster care. Pray for freedom from her addictions, for God’s supernatural strength to help turn her life around for her and her son’s sake.

6. S needs prayer for his job. Fall and winter is a slow time of year for his business, and this year is no exception. Pray for provision for him as he and his wife prepare for the arrival of their first child.

7. J has an unspecified need for herself and her family. God knows the need, let’s just pray and allow the Holy Spirit to intercede as necessary.

8. J, A & S are pregnant. Pray for the health and wellness of the babies and mothers. Pray for their families as they prepare to welcome first grandchildren into the fold. 

9. N needs physical and emotional and financial healing, as well as direction for God’s purpose for her life.

10. Salvation for S and M. Pray for an unmistakable signs from God for them.



11. Pray for the W’s and E’s as they wait on the Lord for the gift of a child.


Do you have something our little community can pray for? Please click where it says “comments” below and let us know your request. If your request is for another person, please use first initials for privacy. We also want to celebrate answers to prayer, so please post a comment updating us on God’s answers as they come.

If you don’t have a request but want to participate, then will you join me in committing to pray for the requests that appear each week? Leave a prayer in the comments for any one specific request, leave a general prayer or anything else God prompts you to pray.

You can dedicate Mondays to prayer on your site, too. Grab the button and make Mondays a prayerful and purposeful start to your week. Leave a comment to let me know you’re linking up and let’s blow up the internet with prayer and praise reports.


“But when you pray,C)”> go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.D)”> And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” 

(Matthew 6:6, ESV) 

May it always be a when we pray…not if.

Be blessed this week and always.