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Celebrate Progress

I visited Georgetown Lake in March to adore its wildflowers and overflowing banks. Two types of flowers captivated me: tiny ones and dewberry flowers. The tiny ones were treasures easily passed by but full of detail upon close observation. The dewberry flowers are white with large petals, and are promises of fruit that’s coming!

Early growth is every bit as profound as matured growth because all life originates from God. A baby is no less a physical wonder than an adult is. The Holy Spirit loves process and rejoices at every stage, even the beginning. Zechariah 4:10 says, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.” To emphasize, God loves to see work begin. He loves both the tiny-flowers and the berry-flowers. And, this is true for our lives, too. He loves our heart and spiritual development and walks with us in our growth.

When Joaquin Evans spoke at True Life recently, he said, “The seed you’re carrying is enough.” His message encouraged our congregation that their seeds of love encounters with the Father were far more valuable than having great anointing or gifting. He told stories about only having an impression without a word of knowledge, yet, and still following the instinct to go and minister. He mentioned having “words of observation,” which was a joke, but meant “I see that guy has a cast, so I’m going to offer to pray.” He presented the idea of accepting where you are in your day, journey and moment, immediately acting, and trusting God to engage. This was something that I felt like our church really needed to hear—something that I need to hear!

Sometimes, we hear stories about friends leading millions to the Lord in revivals in Europe, or Bill Johnson’s shadow causing someone to fall out in the spirit and begin to compare our own journey, and look down on it. When we do that, we devalue the tiny-flowers or unripe berries growing on our own bushes, and in our own lives. But, those are promises and every bit as much a profound miracle of life as a resurrection because none of it is possible without the Holy Spirit!

This reality hit home to me when we did a Love Riot, our homeless outreach, recently. One of the 10 year old girls who attended with us, Christina, wasn’t really into the event as a whole. The distribution and prayer didn’t captivate her. Her leader, Chelsea, said that Christina looked reserved until she remembered a stash of plastic gold coins in her pocket. We had prayed over the coins beforehand that they would carry encounters with eternity. Christina had the idea to hide them places around the block for the homeless people to find, later. Her brother, Elijah saw, and joined in. They prayed that when they were found, the person would encounter God’s love and think about heaven. After that, Chelsea said Christina was beaming with joy.

This tiny moment could be easily passed by and forgotten after testimony time, but looking a little closer we can see at least five measures of growth in Christina’s life – five shoots of maturity.

1) Child-like faith; Christina demonstrated the type of child-like faith that is deeply mature; she believed that the coins would be found. 2) Depth of relationship with God; She knew that He saw what she was doing and would respond by giving encounter after they were found. 3) Identity; She knew she had a good idea and wasn’t afraid to speak up, showing self-confidence. 4) Gifting and anointing; Her brother saw what was going on, and joined, indicating that she may have leadership anointing. 5) Fruit of the Spirit; We saw the fruit of the Spirit alive and well in her, as she produced naturally produced joy.

Although the moment happened quickly, there’s a lot to see – just like those little flowers I found out at Georgetown Lake. And some of those characteristics were berry-flowers, promises of fruit to come (such as the leadership anointing). I am thrilled to see the “flowers” of promise – of her faith and boldness growing.

Recognizing small God-moments in your process is important for adults, too. I don’t think maturity has to do with age, nor can it be forced. Just like a growing child, it should be enjoyed. There is a natural development that God created you for and striving to be somewhere you’re not robs Him of the glory found in the moment and you of the joy in the journey. Engaging with the Father now, and not just when your “breakthrough” happens also invites you into a unique journey with God, as you follow His lead.

I’m not saying not to strive for more or to believe for greater things. I believe our church is moving into greater things than we could ever hope for or imagine (Eph 3:20-21). But I don’t want to focus so much on the future that we miss what He is doing now—He is already here, and moving. Focusing on what He is doing naturally stirs our faith for more (what you focus on grows!).

I had a long season of depression in which I cried out constantly for breakthrough. I would get overwhelmed by the feeling of wanting more of God, especially while I was driving. Multiple times, I started sobbing so severely, that I decided to pull over just to cry out to God. Instead of stuffing the feelings, I pressed in. I expressed how I felt and what I wanted, and waited. I could feel God’s presence, and feel a release in my heart, but I didn’t have breakthrough for over a year. I just kept at it. Every one of those moments was significant even though it didn’t carry the breakthrough, yet. Each time I chose to pull over peeled a layer of an onion in my heart, as I expressed my disappointments and heart aches to Him. When we finally got to the core, it was much easier to deal with it (together). Eventually, I got the breakthrough. But, I treasure those moments of crying with a silent, but present Lord. It stirred my faith and built my trust in Him. It’s a part of my journey and it brought me to where I am. If I had cried once, and said, “That didn’t work,” because I wasn’t free from depression, yet, and ignored the small release and awareness of His presence, I would have missed out.

Here are some practical ways that I have learned not to despise small things and to love beginnings (who better to teach you this than a children’s pastor, who is literally working with “small” things and “beginnings” of life!):

  1. Focus on what’s good. The Bible says that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). Look for what’s good and you will find God. Ask yourself, “What was good today?” “What was my favorite moment at that meeting?” “How have I changed for the better from a year ago?” “What is going well?” I promise, soon you’ll see Jesus walking in your life.

  2. Abundantly celebrate growth and breakthroughs! Don’t wait for “greater things” to give God the praise He deserves now! Extravagantly celebrate yourself and those around you when they have small moments, too. This helps break off a spirit of “despise,” which can actually block you from seeing how good things are! Give Him praise for the courage to talk to someone in a grocery store, or for a person coming up to you with a word of knowledge when you’re having a rough day.

  3. Share your growth with others. Don’t give into the idea that people won’t think your God moment is valuable enough to celebrate. Often, my friends celebrate me more than I do! Plus, people do not get to decide if something has value. Only God can.

  4. Seek fresh encounters. If you’re in a particularly hard place, looking around or celebrating others may be too hard. Put yourself in place for a new touch (through reading the Bible, looking for Him in people, taking a walk, going fishing or on vacation, or whatever you do to meet with God).

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