Updated: Apr 19
by Grace Outlaw
Do You Want to Grow Spiritually?
I'm a nerd. I am well aware of it, and have been for... well, ever. I loved school as a kid, and even took extra classes at night school in high school because I wanted to take ALL the electives (wow... I'm just realizing how extreme that is). If you know anything about the enneagram, I am a 5 – the investigator – which means I love learning, studying, researching, and I love knowledge. It makes me feel secure and safe to learn as much as I can about a subject.
If you've been in the church or religious system for a while, you'll know there is a lot of talk about how to grow spiritually. We have small groups, conferences, bible studies and devotionals all dedicated to our personal spiritual growth. So you better believe I've read and done a lot of these devotionals and studies because learning is how I thought one grew closer to God. So why then for 25-30 years did I not feel that way?
After all, I had learned everything the church wanted me to know: that I had to accept Jesus as my savior, try not to sin, read my Bible every day (and don't question it at all), go to church on Sundays, tithe 10%, serve in the nursery once a month, take communion, and pray for forgiveness each night for all the ways I messed up. Not only was it exhausting, but I didn't feel God present in my life.
What was I missing? Wait, let me go read some more and figure it out...
When's the last time you did something that scared you?
I love our staff meetings at The Gathering. I have learned so much these last two years just by being encouraged to question, deconstruct, and relearn the things I thought I knew. The downside is that Jesse, Shelby, and Katie are all excellent at pushing me outside my (very small and cozy) comfort zone.
In one particular meeting, they were trying to convince me to do something I didn't want to do (I forget what, but I can guarantee it involved interacting with people) and I resisted on the basis that I didn't know enough. I wasn't ready.
“So when will you know enough?”
Now, it's hard to quantify knowledge, but surely there is a marker for going out there and witnessing to the world, right? Like maybe if I just go to seminary first...
“What will you do once you have learned enough?”
And that was when I realized the marker would just keep moving. I would never feel ready no matter how much I learned. In fact, I cannot think of a single time in my life where I have felt like I've known enough about a subject – I always need more, I am quite literally a glutton for knowledge.
Now, maybe your thing isn't knowledge. Maybe it's time (I'm super busy with work), or energy (between the kid's schedules and managing the house I'm just exhausted), or resources (I'm barely scraping by)... but whatever your 'thing' is, there is one surefire way to grow spiritually:
Step outside your comfort zone and DO the thing.
All the reading, studying, tithing, etc is not enough.
"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6
That's not to say the reading, studying praying, attending church services aren't a good thing – because they can be great things. But without action, they are not enough.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
I have grown more spiritually in the last two years than the last twenty-five years combined. It has not been comfortable, and there have definitely been growing pains. If it were solely up to me I would still probably sit alone in my house and do a Bible study or read a blog explaining the Hebrew and Greek meanings of the original text - actually, maybe I'll teach myself Hebrew and Greek - of the Bible.
But I have experienced the process. And without action, all my learning means nothing. There are a lot of people out there who need help. There are a lot of people that need love, and there are a lot of people that need to know Jesus. And they aren't going to experience Him while I sit at home and read.
So this Sunday I'll be out in Newnan participating in Go Day. I've lost count of how many Go Days we've had, but I've never heard one person regret participating. I have heard many stories of powerful conversations, relationships forged, hearts touched, and spiritual growth.
I can tell you personally that if you want to experience spiritual growth that putting your faith into action – ready or not – will make it happen.
To find out more about Go Day - or to sign up - go to www.go-day.org.