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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

What Now, Lord?

It happened as I was driving home one night. You’ve probably experienced it before. The Holy Spirit points out something in your life that needs to go, and you know it’s the start of a season of spiritual growth.

I wish I could say I responded with excitement, looking forward to what God wanted to do in my life. But I didn’t.

Instead I threw my hands up in exasperation and groaned, What now, Lord?

It may sound slightly irreverent, but I felt like I’d already come through a series of these spiritual “growth spurts,” and I was tiring of the routine.

In the last year and a half I had emerged from a dark night of the soul experience in which God had led me to deal with bitterness and resentment that had taken hold in my heart. Prior to that, He had brought me through a season of testing through which He taught me to trust Him more. And before that, He had taken me through a season of forgiving painful offenses (and offenders) from the past.

Bitterness, trust, unforgiveness, what could be next? I wondered.

I felt like I’d been through the wringer and had finally come to a place where the hard part was all over.

Apparently not.

Can’t I have a break, Lord? I asked, thinking back to the spring breaks I enjoyed in college. For a short time, there were no tests, studying, or homework, just relaxation and fun. Having an extended period like that during which I could just “coast” spiritually would be nice.

Not gonna happen.

Okay, that’s not the exact words that the Lord used, but it sums up what He said. He taught me an important lesson that day.

As long as we are still on earth, God is still working on us. We will never reach the point where we can say we are finished until we get to Heaven where our transformation will be complete.

I don’t know who first penned the popular saying, “God loves you where you are, but He loves you too much to leave you there,” but that person was right. The Bible describes it as a pruning process where God shapes our hearts and our attitudes to bear spiritual fruit for him.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful" (John 15:1-2).

We don’t have to dread this process. It is simply God wanting to make us more like Him. Having the Holy Spirit point out our faults may not feel good, but Scripture tells us that God’s discipline is a sign of His love for us.

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in" (Proverbs 3:11-12).

The Lord encouraged me that day that though I’m not always where He wants me to be spiritually, He still loves me right where I am. Day by day He is shaping my heart and my character to match His.

That night I decided to embrace the work that God wants to do in my life, even when it means working through the hard stuff. Instead of asking, "What now, Lord?" in frustration, I’ll respond with an eager "What’s next, Lord?" because I want more than anything to be like Him.

If God is putting His finger on an area of your heart that He wants to work on, don’t resist. Allow Him unhindered access as He works in your life.

And on those days when you feel like you have jumped over one spiritual hurdle only to slam face-first into the next one, remember that we are all a work in progress.

We can be encouraged by the same promise that Paul used to encourage the early Christians at Philippi.

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

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