I Have 'Found' Jesus!?!), I have had many moments of great growth. I've also had periods where my faith has slipped, and periods where it has stayed stagnant.
For me, my faith slipping has still been growth - in a way. Or, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that coming out of that faith-slipping would be growth.
But, I'm getting off topic. Back to my growth spurts...
It really is difficult to remember my growth spurts from when I was a child/teenager. But, this is more caused by my growing age than anything else. I do recall a time shortly after the day I was confirmed when I experienced some growth. I met a pastor who became a mentor and friend to me. He helped me quite a bit - or, as much as I would allow him anyway. He helped me renew my faith, and made me actually want to have a relationship with God. This was the first time I recall ever truly wanting that relationship. This would have been my sophomore year in high school, or the summer right before that.
But, this growth didn't last. While he did help keep me from giving up on God all together, betrayal by the church, and by another pastor, and by my family, caused me to slip into a near faithless state. I still believed in God, but that was the extent of it.
There were little spurts from then until last year - nothing too spectacular, though. During those little spurts, I found myself doing a lot of studying about the Bible, and the history of Christianity, and the different religions and different gods.
Last May was probably the biggest growth spurt I had. There were a few days there which were filled with many little moments that caused significant growth in me spiritually. I've spoken of this trip before, but to summarize - our town's youth group took a trip to Minot, ND - a city which had been tragically affected by severe floods the year before and were still trying to recover. Our purpose was to help with this recovery. I went along as a chaperone.
The first moment I recall when something within me changed was our first night there. We'd just gotten to the hotel and the kids had ran down to the pool. A couple of the other leaders had gone to pick up some pizzas for the group and asked me to watch the group. So, I was standing on the second floor balcony over looking the pool area, and someone came up behind me... one of the other leaders. This was a person whom, up until this specific weekend, I didn't trust. I purposefully avoided him. And, as I felt his presence behind me, I remember instantly feeling uncomfortable and feeling that need to run... almost like I was suffocating. It's a weird feeling to try to explain. But anyway, I felt it. And then I felt an unknown, unexpected calm come over me, and a feeling speaking within me to not run. An assuring voice within me to open myself up. I had never felt this before. I can't even describe it. A feeling to trust? To care? To let myself open to these possibilities? This was unheard of for me.
The next day was filled with wonder for me - listening to flood victims tell their stories; watching a group of teenagers working to help these people; watching them as they listened to the stories; getting my own hands dirty and giving my own muscles a workout they've never had before as I worked with the teens... it was an intense, eye-opening and soul-opening experience for me. I knew God was there with us that day. I saw His work. I saw His grace. I felt his presence.
Another pivotal moment for me was our trip home. I have to admit to being a bit selfish that day - I was aching and incredibly tired. I hadn't slept well for 2 nights, and had done more physical labor in those couple days than I had in a couple years. I was supposed to ride home in another car and keep the driver awake... and I remember feeling so guilty because I didn't want to be in that car. I love the woman who was driving... she's a great lady. I never said anything to her. I was going to be obedient and just ride with er. But I really wanted to be in the other car... with the one person who two days ago had made me feel so incredibly uncomfortable. I can't explain why. Had anyone told me this would be where I felt I needed to be... I would have laughed at them. Well, somehow it worked out in such a way that this is exactly where I ended up. And it was on this trip home, this three hour drive, that I found myself opening up a little more, and found myself realizing that I wanted to start attending church again, and being active in my faith.
This last year since that trip has been a steady growth spiritually. Yes, there have been times of little growth.. and I've probably slid backwards just a bit... but for the most part, it's been growth. Nice, steady, growth - all because of one trip... one intensely great growth spurt.
Can you recall a moment of great growth?