I’ve thought about progress a lot this year. We are still hoping and praying for a full recovery of my energy, endurance, and strength. I still have some issues with some nerves and muscles in my left arm and leg; and days when I just have almost no energy to do anything.
Every time I look at where I am, I first see the “little” progress I have made over the previous few days. Then it hits me where I was a couple or few weeks ago, and then, even more so, over the long haul. As I noted in my Sept. 5 blog, in relation to Dennis Jernigan’s song, “I Need to Know You,” I have been as helpless as an infant, and I have been a dying man longing for air to breathe.
The last few days have brought additional perspective. Looking back on my life spiritually, there are parallels to my life physically this year.
First, there is being dead in sin, to taking His cross as my own, and dying to sin and self in order for His life to flow in and through me. Then, a spiritual infancy needing much nurturing, care and instruction—a time of spiritual frailty and weakness, setbacks, but also of growth—where resolve and stamina [steadfastness and patient endurance] and “energy” to do spiritual life seemed sorely lacking. Along the way, there was progress, but it seemed slow and incremental. Other people, who saw me from the outside and over time would often see me as spiritual, even “godly.” This would encourage me and help me see I really had made progress. At times it would also bring the temptation to spiritual pride. Nonetheless, I could look back and “see how far I’ve come.” At the same time, there was the awareness that I still was far from where I needed and wanted to be.
In relation to my physical recovery this year, I’ve commented about how far I’ve come, yet what a long way yet remains ahead. That is the nature of spiritual growth: the more we grow, the more we see Him and the better we know Him, leading us to realize how much more is available to us to learn and know and grow into. The more we become like Him, the more we realize how much we are not yet like Him. This can be discouraging in one sense. However, we should see how far we have come, and since our growth is His doing anyway, realize that He is able and willing to complete what He has started in us.
I have been crucified with Christ, … and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20). Life always comes out of death. A seed must die to being a seed in order to bear a fruit-bearing plant (John 12:24). “More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord … not having a righteousness of my own, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-11).