* Continued from Part One
Contrary to popular belief, living a life committed to Christian excellence is far from a tedious, joyless affair. When Christ calls us, he does not call us to a life of drudgery and boredom; he does not lead us into a life characterized by a restrictive morality and a scowling face. Christ’s call and claim on our life is a challenge to our limited ways of being in the world. When the Lord whispers in a person’s ear, saying, “Follow me,” he is issuing an invitation to an exciting journey of exploration and spiritual discovery. Erwin Raphael McManus, noted author and pastor of Mosaic in Los Angeles, tells us:
“Jesus calls us to a life of unimaginable adventure. It begins the moment we choose to follow Him. It is no less than to pass from existence to life. Though we are not taken out of time and space, we are translated into an entirely different dimension of living. Jesus tells us that He is the portal into this life and the quest that follows. Jesus describes Himself as a door, a gate, a portal. In other words, an escape hatch. He has come to lead us out of the mundane and into the extraordinary. Strangely enough we find it hard to trust Him, while all the time he has been trying to lead us out of the dark dungeons we have created for ourselves and let us run free in the light of day. When we come to Him, he translates us into an entirely new realm of living. His promise is that in Him we will find the life that our hearts have always longed for.”
The process of realizing the potential God placed in us is individual in nature. One person may see his or her potential unfolded in one way while someone else may have a different experience altogether. Still, there are several truths that hold firm for each of us as we journey forward with the Holy Spirit. Let’s discuss three of them: the need for discipline; the need for persistence; and the trap of complacency.
Discipline is not a popular word in post-modern culture. Instead, we are encouraged to “follow our bliss” and “do our own thing.” The world pays lip service to the importance of discipline and self-control in daily living, but the over-arching message is in actuality much different. Often, instead of encouraging individuals to delay gratification, defer rewards, and develop character, our culture tells us, “If it feels good, do it.” No one ever manifested divine potential by adhering to this advice.
Scripture repeatedly stresses the importance of discipline, self-control, and personal morality. Without personal discipline, we squander our energies, waste precious time, and lose direction and focus. If we want to become the persons God intended us to be, we have to be disciplined individuals governed by an internalized biblical value system.
As we move forward in this sacred journey of spiritual development, we will experience periods of accelerated growth as well as times when it seems we are advancing at a snail’s pace. This unpredictable pace of spiritual formation is to be expected. There will be times of elation and excitement a you realize the positive changes God’s Spirit has brought about in you life. At other times, you will experience something quite different as you struggle with a particular habit, sin, or negative personality trait. This can be a critical juncture in your growth process. It is easy to become discouraged when change does not come at the pace we would prefer. However, the important point to remember is: “Don’t quit.”
There is an old saying: “Never rest on your laurels.” Basically, this means that we should never be satisfied with what we have accomplished. Reaching a goal is satisfying, but we shouldn’t allow this to be the final act in the play. We must continually press forward toward new goals that will allow us to manifest the best version of ourselves. Also, it is important to keep in mind that we should never focus our mental energy on what it is we think we cannot do. Rather, we should believe in ourselves and always refuse to let what we cannot do interfere with what we can do. By focusing on doing what we can do, and doing it better, we make progress. Moreover, we facilitate our continuing spiritual development by challenging ourselves to reach higher. Both personal experience and deep study has taught me that the optimal method for moving beyond where we are is by “stretching ourselves.” By this I mean it is highly advantageous for us if we encourage ourselves to move beyond what we are now capable of, even if only to a small degree.
For example, I enjoy playing table tennis. I am far from a great player, but I can achieve some degree of success when I am at the top of my game. (Of course, I played much better when I was younger and my reflexes were quicker.) Early on, I discovered I could not improve my play by competing against players who I could easily defeat. By the same token, I could not get any better by playing against opponents who were my equal. If I wanted to improve, I had to play against competitors who were more skillful than I was. I soon discovered that if I took on players whose skills were slightly above mine, my play gradually but consistently improved.
The same is true in terms of realizing our potential in any endeavor. If we want to improve at something, we have to challenge ourselves; we have to stretch ourselves to get to the next level.
Dr. Myles Munroe, the highly respected pastor and Bible teacher mentioned earlier, begins one of his books on divine potential by observing that the richest place on earth is not the vault of a large bank or even Fort Knox. Instead, Dr. Munroe points out, the world’s greatest wealth is often found in the cemetery. It is here, in the graveyard, where many dreams lie buried – dreams that were never realized, missions that were never accomplished, and potential that was never realized.
As I reflect upon the tragic reality of Dr. Munroe’s observations about the wealth lying beneath the grave stones, I ponder another possible tragedy, equally distressing. I wonder how many people are going about their daily rounds, oblivious to the potential placed inside them by the Creator. How many of us will squander this precious life that we have without realizing and manifesting their God-given potential? How many will have their potential buried with them? I, for one, have made a covenant commitment with God not to allow this to happen to me.
How about you?
to be continued…..
(c) L.D. Turner 2012/ All Rights Reserved
- The Unfolding of Sacred Potential (Part One – Revised and Expanded) (lifebrook.wordpress.com)
- A Note on Unfolding Divine Potential (lifebrook.wordpress.com)
- Making Straight the Way: The Bittersweet Mission of John the Baptist (lifebrook.wordpress.com)