Keep on Growing
As time passes I tend to look back to who I used to be, the various stages of my life, to who I have become. I somewhat remember being a content toddler, a somewhat mischievous child, a curious teenager and becoming a mature adult.
Little did I know that my life would change so drastically once I hit middle age! But looking back, the transition from farming to ministry didn’t happen overnight. God was at work in my life all along. As a youngster I had trouble sitting still in church, often getting a stern look from my father. A few years later I was able to stay focused on the sermon and often asked questions about it once we got home. There was growth. I became very involved with Young Peoples and attended Catechism class (under the teachings of Rev. John Groen). As an adult I was asked to join a Prison Ministry, first to just be there, but soon I was asked to take turns in leading our small worship service there. I found that both interesting and challenging, spurring me on to learn how to deliver a message more effectively.
Little did I know that God was grooming me for the ministry in the CRC. In my mid forties I sold the cows and applied to enter full time ministry by way of Art. 7 of Church Order. An assessment showed that I did have some gifts for ministry, yet several years of seminary was the recommendation, which I was fully prepared to do. Each step required a lot of faith. When I look back I am amazed at how it all worked out! Throughout my life I was growing in faith and God was preparing me for the work I do today. Growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!
The Apostle Peter exhorts us to do just that in his second letter, chapter 3:18. We are all familiar with plants. Perhaps you have noticed a very small plant, and I after not seeing it for a time (maybe you were gone for vacation or so) and upon returning notice how much that plant has grown. Being a Christian also requires growth. A believer may never stagnate or reach a plateau. We are to keep growing throughout our lives, also in our senior years! We are to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ. What does this mean? In this context, grace refers to the gradual development of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives: godliness, kindness, patience and so on. These virtues grow in knowledge, which we gain through Bible study.
Many Christians emphasize the exact time they were ‘born again’ by the Spirit. I became aware of God’s presence in my life at a very young age, but I do not know exactly when I was ‘born again’. I could see evidence thereof: an awareness of sin, and the need for repentance, a growing hunger for God’s Word and an increasing willingness to serve the Lord in whatever way He might choose.
As precious as that special ‘moment’ of rebirth is to some, we should talk more about growing more and more as a Christian “all” the time. It’s an ongoing process, and a most marvelous one! Believing in Christ involves growing. This growth does not happen overnight. It is through God’s grace but also requires something from us. Growing in Grace and Knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ prepares us for any difficult times that come our way. This growth is a lifelong process. May the Lord bless you richly in the New Year we have just entered, 2016, and may it be a year of growth in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Pastor Brent Vanderheide