Updated: Mar 18, 2019
Let’s make one thing clear from the outset: a relationship with God is not meant to be a dutiful chore, rather it is given to us as something that is unbelievably enjoyable!
This is not to say that life is easy, or that we will not suffer in our walk with the Lord.
In fact, Jesus promised that we will face difficulties in this life. Yet, it was for “the joy set before him” that “he endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2).
Though sorrow does accompany the life of faith it does not define it.
Rather, our lives, in Christ, are meant to be satisfying and fulfilling. Truly, the Lord has always intended that our lives be delightful, and as we walk closely with Him, He desires to give us the things that our hearts desire (Psalm 37:4). God is pleased to give good things to those that follow Him (Psalm 84:11), and He knows how to give really good gifts (Matthew 7:11)!
It has always been God’s desire to bless the hearts of His children.
Part of the way He blesses our hearts is to set them free. Freedom is God’s desire for His children. The Lord longs to set us free not only from sin, but also from bondage to ourselves and the world around us. Christ came to set us free (Luke 4:18) and God’s whole plan of redemption is one to set His children free.
Though this freedom is part of our heritage as the Children of God, it does not come easily. We must work to lay hold of our freedom. Truly, sometimes we must even fight for it! Even when we win battles to get free (free of bondage, sin, bad habits, unhealthy relationships, emotional hang-ups, self-defeating thought patterns, etc.) we still have to engage in battles to stay free.
We are each on a journey, learning how to walk with God. Learning how to walk in the abundant life that Christ offers stretches out over the entirety of our lives.
There will never come a time that we are not still continuing to learn, and continuing to grow. In this life, our journey never stops—even though at times it may seem as if we have lost momentum.
God is always at work, shaping us to become that which we are destined to be.
He has a plan, for each of us, in order that we may live our lives well. As we learn to partner with Him, joining our efforts with His, we will see incredible results through the transformation of our character as well as circumstances. This is the essence of journeying with Him—aligning ourselves with the movements of God in our lives.
When we desire to align ourselves with the will of God we face within ourselves two chief obstacles to our progress:
The first major obstacle we face is overcoming the baggage that we unintentionally bring with us on the journey.
The second major obstacle we face is learning to discern God’s will and where He is leading us.
Thus, we see that in order to experience a deeper relationship with God we must do two things: we must look back in order to clear away anything that hinders us from moving forward, and we must look to the present to discern where we are now and how best to move forward in harmony with God’s leading.
This is the essence of our sanctification—or growth in holiness—which is simply the process of growing in our spiritual lives by becoming more like God.
Many Christians suffer from the faulty notion that God’s will has to be hard. Often people live with the unspoken assumption that God only wants them to do difficult things and to be perpetually uncomfortable.
Now, it is true that God will not compromise our character development for the sake of our comfort. Yet, He is utterly concerned with our day to day lives.
Growing in holiness and becoming Christ-like is not meant to be burdensome.
When Jesus called us to die to ourselves, it did not mean we that we were to cease being a real person. Rather, to die to ourselves means to die to self-centeredness and selfish ambition. Paradoxically, the moment that we let go of our lives—by turning them over to God to direct us as He will—that is the precise moment that we begin to come fully alive.
The only way to truly find fulfillment in this life is to become who God created each one of us to be. God was very purposeful as He designed each one of us. God has plans and purposes for each one of our lives that He had in mind for us before we ever even found salvation (Ephesians 2:10).
God was personally involved in the creation of each one of us. He crafted us within the womb in wonderful ways (Psalm 139:13-14). We each carry the image of God, revealing different facets of His limitless character. Each and every Christian—each child of God—is designed in such a way to witness to the world the very nature of God in a unique and personal way. Every one of our lives reveal something about God in a way that no one else on earth can. Our lives matter!
As we become more like Christ we do not lose ourselves, rather we find ourselves!
We become more like Jesus, we come alive and become more like the unique person God created each one of us to be. When we give up our old life, we find new and abundant life in Christ (Luke 17:33). When we shed the old self—the false self—we find our true self, the one that is being renewed and shaped in the likeness of God (Ephesians 4:22-24). With His Spirit alive and at work inside of us, we cannot help but experience more of the fruit of His life; including greater measures of love, joy and peace (Gal 5:22).
Journeying with God and becoming more like Christ is an incredibly freeing thing. As our minds are renewed, our lives demonstrate God’s will in action and we experience firsthand that His will for us is “good, pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).”
In fact, He has better things in store for us than anything we could imagine for ourselves!