As I flip through my planner, I find myself wondering where all the time has gone, and if I’ll ever get “there.” You know the place I mean. The “there” we were supposed to arrive magically after we sat in the driver’s seat for the first time. The “there” that was supposed to be mapped out for us in the fine print at the end of our high school diploma, or at the very least our college diploma. I never knew where “there” was, but it wasn’t the “there” I find myself in today.
If you’re like me, this “are we there yet?” mentality affects your feelings about your career, possessions, and secret dreams. As believers, it creeps into our walk with Christ.
In my childish visions of the “there” I’d reach by my age, I was a published author, married with kids, and living in a Victorian-style mansion. I was also the model Christian. I read my Bible and wrote in my prayer journal at the same time every day. Everyone who knew me talked about how knowledgeable I was in God’s Word and how humble and kind I was to everyone around me. I can’t help but shake my head at the “there” I envisioned and the “here” I’m actually living.
My life is good. Some days, I’d say amazing. I am blessed and humbled by God’s goodness to me, but I am not where I thought I would be spiritually. This is partly because my expectations were unrealistic. It is also because I have allowed failure to discourage me and stunt my spiritual growth. I grow frustrated because I can never reach the “there yet” point in my spiritual journey where godliness and my relationship with God become easy.
Easy. That is what my millennial self wants. I want to be able to get “there” and stay there without the constant battle within my heart to remind me I’m still a sinner.
As I’ve struggled with the weight of discouragement in my spiritual life, God has brought me back to four truths that have helped to lift the feeling of failure from my heart. If you’re feeling like a failure as a Christian, I ask you to walk yourself through these four steps with me to regain your optimism.
Step One: Focus on Who God is
God is holy. The Bible declares “There is none holy as the Lord: for there is none beside Thee” (I Samuel 2:2a). If you find yourself struggling to understand God’s character, a study of His attributes mentioned throughout the Bible will bring you back to your knees in awe before our amazing God.
In His perfect wisdom and holiness, God created human beings in His likeness. He chose to do this knowing that His creation would rebel against Him. Can we understand His reasoning? No, but we can rest assured that He knew from the beginning that we, His people, would sin. He chose to create us and craft plans for each of our lives anyway.
As our Heavenly Father, God hears His children asking “are we there yet?” He has far more patience than we do, and He knows the plans He has for us.
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28
Step Two: Remember Who You are
It comes from wanting perfection in an imperfect world and body. I know myself and that I am not as consistent as I should be in my devotions, prayer life, and Christian service. I know how sinful my heart can be, and I let my failings overpower my will to try.
But God didn't save me so that I could be overwhelmed by my ineptitude. He saved me so that I could be in awe of His transforming power.
When God saved you and me, He covered us with the cloak of His righteousness. That means, when He looks at us, He sees, not our failures, but His success. God made His son Jesus, “to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Paul David Tripp in his devotional book New Morning Mercies encourages his readers in this way:
“Let’s start the new year by admitting that there is nothing less natural for us than to live for the glory of another. This admission is the doorway not to despair, but to hope. God knew that in your sin you would never live this way, so He sent His Son to live the life you couldn’t, to die on your behalf, and to rise again, conquering sin and death.”
Step Three: Realize Spiritual Growth is a Process
Remember that “all or nothing” mentality I mentioned? This is the truth that smashes it. Believers are positionally perfect (meaning God sees Christ’s righteousness in us), but we are far from actually perfect. And far doesn’t become near until a long journey is over.
My nephew, Jackson, had to wait 15 hours in the car until his “are we there yet?” plea was answered to his satisfaction. Christ’s followers have a lifetime.
That lifetime is not meant to be spent waiting to get out of the car, but actively building our relationship with God, stretching our understanding of His Word, discipling younger believers, and reaching the lost with news of God’s salvation. These are the good works “God hath before ordained that [we] should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).
If you’ve been saved by Christ’s work on the cross, God has placed you on the road to the perfect destination He is preparing for you. Our travels will take us through some tough trials, heartbreaks, and temptations. Sometimes, through our tears, we’ll ask God, “are we there yet?”
The wonderful thing about God’s road, though, is we never have to crash and burn. All we have to do is stand and move towards Him again. He knows we’ll never reach His perfect destination in our own strength, but He means for us to delight in this, because it means our faith will stand, not in ourselves, but “in the power of God” (I Cor. 2:5b).
Step Four: If at First You Don’t Succeed, Pray and Try Again
This last step is really just a reminder to go back through the first three steps when discouragement puts up a roadblock again. The Christian life is a journey that ends in a perfect Heaven. God has chosen to leave us on this earth so that the righteousness of Christ might shine through our lives into a sin-addicted world.
God knows we won’t fulfill our commission perfectly, but when we fall short, all we have to do is pray for His promised forgiveness. He will set us right back on our feet and give us the grace to keep walking toward Him.
Don’t allow your imperfections and failures to discourage you from walking toward Jesus. What matters more than our failures is our decision to confess them and keep going. We have a long journey ahead of us, but it is a beautiful journey filled with God’s grace in our weaknesses. Focus on Him. Remember He has saved you and will continue the work He started in you. Remember the process of growth and change He began in your heart won’t be completed until you meet Him.
Discouragement does not come from a humble realization that we can’t do it. It comes from a wrong focus. Focusing on our failures takes the focus off of the One who has already overcome them. No matter where you’re at in your spiritual journey, all you have to do is seek Him. He is “faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9). He will give us the strength to stand up and walk towards Him again.
God Sees Her: 365 Devotions for Women by Women
Following the overwhelming success and rave reviews of God Hears Her, we're bringing you another devotional written by women for women to reassure you that God is with you. God Sees Her is a beautifully styled giftbook containing 366 meditations with accompanying Scripture that speak to the heart of women.
My relationship with God is designed to take work, even though the child inside of me asking “are we there yet?” is hard to silence. How are you working on your relationship with God in this new year?
1/17/2020 02:28:44 pm
Sounds like you have a wise father, Boma! And I agree. It’s so great to know we can trust God and his timing. He never makes a mistake.
1/17/2020 11:57:21 am
You are so right. We are rushing so quick to get somewhere we don't enjoy the ride. And then when we get there, we don't enjoy the destination or win, but rush directly to the next thing. Sometime I think God just shakes his head at us and laughs. We are so predictable sometimes. Just like we laugh at our children.
1/17/2020 02:45:37 pm
Theresa, that’s a great way of putting it. We really can be so predictable. We lose sight of the fact that our God who knows all is watching over us, and yes, I agree, sometimes he must be laughing. :-)
1/17/2020 03:45:08 pm
That’s a wonderful question to replace it with, Ammie!
1/17/2020 01:14:09 pm
What an insightful post! It is so easy to get focused where we "aren't" and what we wish was different. When we do, we lose sight of all God's blessings right here. I know I need to be more like Paul who had learned to be content in any and all circumstances. Thanks for sharing!
1/17/2020 04:36:03 pm
I need to be more like Paul too, Donna! Contentment wherever God has me is a lesson He’s been teaching me as well. He has already provided the grace I need for every day.
1/17/2020 04:44:03 pm
Thanks Carolyn! His timing is always best, and he does have so much to teach us through the journey.
You're talking to me! Straight to me! I was reading your words about the there you thought would be here by now and I saw my fingerprint on them. Sometimes I get upset because of traffic jams that prevent me from getting to my destination "in time", only to find out there had been a tragic accident about the time I could have been at an exact point. Let's be reminded today Sis. You and me that God knows what is up the road. He know the exact time we need to get to our destination. Down here and up there.
1/17/2020 06:08:58 pm
Sounds like we’re learning some of the same life lessons, Calvonia! I’m so glad God is faithful and that he knows all the “whys” in his timing when we do not. Here’s to learning to trust him more! :-)
1/17/2020 07:33:56 pm
These are such encouraging words, Cami. My word for the year is "perseverance" so I really related to Step 3. We are always in the process of becoming on this side of heaven, aren't we?
1/17/2020 09:37:37 pm
I’m so glad, Tammy! Perseverance is such a good word, but such a hard one sometimes too. It is definitely step three in a nutshell. By God’s Grace, we’ll keep persevering til he calls us home.
1/17/2020 08:06:58 pm
What a blessing this was!
1/17/2020 09:38:08 pm
I’m so glad! :-)
1/20/2020 10:46:22 am
I was drawn in immediately by the graphic today, since my best friend just bought a yellow VW bus and plans to travel all over the US in it in her retirement years. I hope to go on a few trips with her and hope that I can be as patient as I need to be till we get to our destination. But, yes, Cami, that's always so hard for us--often running ahead of God. Thanks for this reminder to let Him set the pace and enjoy the journey all along the way!
1/20/2020 01:28:35 pm
That is such a fun idea, Beth! Sounds like you both have some fun trips ahead of you.
1/21/2020 08:17:08 am
We live in a world full of Jackson's. Unable to enjoy the moment and accept where we are in life because we're so focused on the next thing or what the other person is doing or how far along they are and how far behind we are when the reality is, if we enjoy the present and learn to be content right where we are, we just might see we are exactly where we're supposed to be.
1/21/2020 10:44:42 am
Beautifully expressed, Yvonne! It really is all a matter of trust and a willingness to be where God has us right now.
1/22/2020 11:00:40 am
We won't arrive until we see Jesus' face in person :). The recurring melody in my life is "Just a Closer Walk with Thee."
1/22/2020 11:48:24 am
In the presence of Jesus is the perfect destination waiting for us. I love that song! Thanks for sharing, Anita!
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