I can be an all-or-nothing kind of girl – a bit of a perfectionist. In my heart of hearts, I’d like everything in my life to always be perfectly well-ordered, organized, disciplined, beautiful … and at the same time full of joyous spontaneity, creativity, and freedom.
You don’t have to raise your hand if you see a problem with that last sentence. Or a bunch of problems. I know, I know. I see them, too.
It gets worse when I apply this kind of hope, this kind of dream to my spiritual life. I so want to be instantly, consistently, (as close to) perfectly spiritually disciplined and mature.
But the spiritual life – at least what I’ve experienced of it – is anything but instant. It’s a journey of steps and stages. A lengthy process. A battle – or rather, a series of battles.
And it’s been that way from the beginning.
Thousands of years ago, when God finally led His children out of slavery in Egypt and out of 40 years of wilderness wandering into the Promised Land, they may have thought life would suddenly be a bed of roses. A dream come true. They would experience an instant transformation, at once becoming a glorious and mighty nation, and they would all live happily ever after.
But their battles had just begun.
Yes, they were finally free. Yes, they were finally home. But they couldn’t rest, they couldn’t celebrate for long. For one thing, they had to drive out the squatters first – city by city, region by region – until they were in full possession of the land.
God told them He planned it that way.
He knew it was going to take time for them to grow and mature (and multiply) into that mighty nation…
They needed to fight each and every battle, one at a time, to gain confidence and experience and skill and strength and wisdom. They needed to continue to learn to depend on Him, day by day.
If not, they would have found themselves in all kinds of danger:
“The Lord your God will drive those nations out ahead of you little by little. You will not clear them away all at once, otherwise the wild animals would multiply too quickly for you.” (Deuteronomy 7:22)
The point is that sometimes our spiritual growth, our progress, our deliverance, our victory takes time.
Some battles are best fought one at a time, even when we’d rather tackle them all at once.
Which brings me back to where I started. I have a tendency to start a new day or a new week or a new month determined to fight spiritual battles on 50 different fronts. To try to attack every issue I see in my heart or life that needs attention.
But earlier this week, I was so overwhelmed. I was convicted about how one particular heart issue affects so many different areas – and how many times I’ve failed to make any headway with this issue in the past.
Sitting there with my Bible and my journal in front of me, feeling teary and hopeless, I cried out to God once again, asking Him what I should do.
He reminded me of the verse in Deuteronomy. And He put his finger on one particular battlefront… one particular area (the one that made me squirm the most) and said, “Just deal with this one.”
Don’t worry about trying to fight it in all these other areas; start with this one.
Can you do that?
By His grace, in His strength, I know I can.
I have. I am.