Struggling to Grow Spiritually

Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain; so the Lord shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field. – Zechariah 10:1

lake-geneva-3524436_1280For the past several months, my family and I have been transplanting perennials, bulbs, and shrubs from one garden bed into another across the driveway.

We didn’t do this for fun, mind you – when we had neighbors move in to the plot next door, we discovered that we didn’t own land we thought we did. Though our new neighbors said it would be fine to leave the garden bed where it was, we didn’t feel right about doing that.

So, beginning in April, we dug up and moved many plants and hundreds of bulbs to a long, curving bed along the opposite side of our drive.

Last week, I finally transplanted the last group of plants and allowed myself a little happy dance.

I’m thrilled to be done with the project, but I’ll be even more thrilled when everything comes up fresh and lovely next spring. Right now, many of the cut-back perennials look like nothing more than short bundles of sticks poking out of the ground.

You see, I had to cut many of the plants back to allow them to re-develop their root systems. The plants that we moved in early spring look great, as they have had time to develop new growth both below ground and above.

The most recent transplants, however, aren’t remotely recognizable as the plants that they are.

But I know that strong roots are growing just under the surface. If I give these plants proper amounts of water and fertilizer and wait patiently through their winter dormancy, they will put on a beautiful show next spring.


 

tulip-4132180_1280My family and I recently discussed similar periods of dormancy in our Christian lives.

It can sometimes look as though we are not growing at all, stuck in the same place despite going through the motions of a healthy Christian life.

We read the Bible, we pray, we try to live as we ought – and yet, we find ourselves feeling dull and dry, lacking intimacy with the Lord. We’re not falling away from Him, but we’re not growing closer to Him; and our spiritual growth seems at a standstill as well.

It’s a comfort to know we are not the first to feel this way.

O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is. – Psalm 63:1

plant-4036191_1280If the Psalmist thirsted and longed for God, I imagine he must have felt empty and unfulfilled, craving something he once had. He yearned for God’s presence and all that comes with it, including new growth: fresh discoveries about the Lord, spiritual strengthening, and a renewed sense of vitality and purpose.

But sometimes, just as in nature, God allows times of dormancy before times of growth.

During those times, we need to continue doing what nurtures our spiritual lives, even if we don’t see immediate results: fertilize with the Word of God, water with prayer, and rest in Christ.


Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live. – Ezekiel 37:5

Have you experienced a time of spiritual dormancy? How do you stay motivated to keep living for the Lord? I welcome your input!

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14 thoughts on “Struggling to Grow Spiritually”

  1. God certainly does give us times of dormancy. We need it, even though we do not want it. The world demands we do, Do, DO! but Jesus is calling us to His peace and rest. Let it be so! Let us take this time of dormancy to heed His Word, repent of ‘self’ and let our spirit grow into maturity with Him!

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  2. Wonderfully written, this definitely uplifted me today! Some periods feel quite stagnant and I wonder “God, what are you doing in my life? Why do I feel so stuck?” There are small changes that happen within us during those times and thirsting for the Lord is always a good experience for growth.

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  3. Yes, I have felt that way too, and actually been feeling that way for a small time now. Then the LORD, like right here in your post reminds me that this is all part of the greater plan He has. I feel it is like when we were kids, or when we take our kids to the park, a birthday party, or gathering. We don’t make them sit right beside us. We don’t hover over them. We let them venture off, play, socialize, etc. We watch, and if they need us we are right there. I feel, God does this with us as well. He doesn’t smoother us. He allows us to venture out, to miss Him, long for Him. Put into practice the valuable lessons that He is teaching us. And if we get into trouble, distress, or hurt, etc, He is right there 🙂

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  4. We all experience such times, and being ordained makes no difference. As with marriage, and life in general, days will come during which absolutely nothing spectacular will happen; the mission is just to grind through them. When I find myself in such a stretch, quite often the boost comes unexpectedly– the kind word at the right time, a nice gesture from someone, the hug from a child after church. Those are the moments that make the grinding worthwhile. Then I close my eyes and say “thank you.”

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