January. The time of year for new beginnings, a fresh start, and hope for change. Last month I wrote about opening the greatest gift we have ever been given, the gift of God’s Son,Jesus. We don’t deserve such a perfect gift, but God loves us and wanted a way for us to have a forever relationship with Him.
If you opened that gift or have recently come into a relationship with God as a new Christian, you may be excited but a little overwhelmed about the next step. This month I will be writing about some ways to help you grow in your faith.
First, be patient with yourself and pray. We are all on this journey together. You are not alone. Don’t feel like you need to learn and do everything all at once. When God’s becomes a part of your life, through the Holy Spirt, He is more interested in your heart and not some Christian checklist. You can spend a lifetime doing, serving, learning, and studying but if your heart never reflects a personal relationship with Him, then your energy spent will be wasted. Talk to Him. Begin sharing your worries, your questions, and your desires.
The Pharisees (religious leaders) in the Bible knew the laws, all 600 of them, but could not surrender their hearts to a relationship with God. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees, what was the greatest law? They wanted to trap Him and find a reason to charge him with going against the Jewish laws. Jesus said the greatest commandment is “Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it. ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.” Matthew 22:37-40 MSG.
God wants every part of us. Everything that comes from our heart, our soul, and our minds should be an echo of our love for Him. This can take a lifetime and we could never do it perfectly, but this should still be our aim. That’s why Jesus died for each of us. We can be free from trying to live a perfect life and just live to love Him. When we mess up loving Him, forgiveness comes, and we can try again and again. But when we do hit the mark, loving Him helps us love ourselves and pour that overflowing love out on others.
This faith journey is like a baby learning to walk. Each step is followed by a stumble and a fall. Eventually the baby learns to catch herself, balance, and keep going. Falls become less frequent. But the interesting thing is, when a baby falls, she will eventually get up and try again. Babies don’t give up. They are persistent. They like the feeling of being upright on two feet more than they like crawling on all fours.
In the beginning of Christian journey, you will fall more than you remain upright, but be patient and persistent. Keep getting back up. You will find that being upright, running after God, is a place you would much rather be, other than crawling along, never getting to fully see the life God has for you.
As you begin your Christian journey, be patient and pray. God will guide you and walk with you when you surrender to Him each day. Focus on loving Him however you can. Pray for the abundance of love to be poured out on yourself and others. If we all focus on this each day, our baby steps will keep us upright, growing in our faith, and running toward God.