This weekend we celebrated a sort of birthday. You might consider it more of an anniversary, but as we look back 4 years ago when the original event happened, it felt more like a birth. Like stepping into a calling that the Lord placed in our lives. Specifically, it was the Lord’s call for my husband, but we’re a team and our efforts are intricately woven together. So I refer to it as “ours.” Thankfully I have his blessing in that.
Four years ago, after 26 years in law enforcement, Mike stepped into the political arena to run for the office of Sheriff. That day (the county assembly where active members of the political party determine which names will represent them on the primary election ballot) was bloody awful.
Yet beautiful blessings filled the day at the same time.
When we entered the room, Mike was the obvious underdog. One of his opponents had stacked the room with countless teens from a high school who chanted, cheered, and provided a stadium-type atmosphere. The opponent also had a lot of voting supporters in the room, some of whom had made it appear, before the event, that they were in our corner. Clearly, when it mattered, they were not.
The Lord showed His mighty hand of favor that day. Through His grace and provision alone, Mike received just enough votes to have his name listed on the primary ballot. Our campaign team came out of that event successful, by just by the skin of our teeth. We knew we had to climb a mountain in order for Mike to take office. The path before us was long and rocky.
Over the weekend, we returned to the county assembly for Mike’s bid for re-election. Everything felt different. We had support, peace, and assurance. It was clear that Mike had earned the respect and support of many who backed the opponent in the last race. At the event, I said aloud multiple times, “Today is about celebrating how far we’ve come.”
As the words fell from my tongue, I wondered, “Why don’t we do that in our spiritual lives?”
Sometimes following Jesus is hard.
We’re confronted with “dos” and “don’ts” that we never imagined. We’re prompted to walk in uprightness. Past activities we didn’t think twice about suddenly spur a feeling of conviction. We sometimes pull away from activities (and therefore friends) that we used to enjoy. We set our alarms early to spend a few minutes looking at God’s Word, wondering if He’ll help us understand. Most of our Sundays are committed to attending worship services with other believers and we wish we could just sleep in like we used to.
Often we get so wrapped up in what we’re supposed to do—so focused on the changes the Lord is bringing to our lives, that we forget to stop and celebrate progress.
My encouragement for all of us today is this:
Take some time to celebrate your journey and how far you’ve come. Recognize the little changes, the seemingly unnoticeable progress in your life. Others may not see it but I’ll bet that you do and I know the Lord does. So celebrate that progress.
Jesus’ Example of Recognition
In Scripture, we see that Jesus recognized His followers for their faith or progress they’d made. Consider the following:
- Jesus praises John the Baptist (see Matthew 11:11)
- Peter answers the question of Who Jesus is (see Matthew 16:13-17)
- The Centurion understands Jesus’ authority (see Luke 7:2-9)
- The bleeding woman touches the robe of Jesus (see Luke 8:43-48)
Where Have You Grown?
What progress have you made in your spiritual growth?
- Maybe you’re learning to put away your potty-mouth sometimes.
- Perhaps you find you criticize others less frequently.
- Listening to Christian music in your car might be a huge change for you.
- Do you find you enjoy reaching out to those in need?
- Is your prayer life becoming increasingly consistent and comfortable?
Acknowledge the many ways that you’ve grown in your walk with Christ. Relish in the blessings. Ask His favor on the ways that spiritual growth remains difficult.
God sees every effort. I believe the honor we give God in our daily lives pleases Him.
Celebrate, give thanks, and embrace the joy of the Lord.