I've been thinking about you, friends who have said yes to hearing the messages that I share, and wanting to say hello as we've welcomed in the new year, but I've been hesitant to speak. I don't want to just add to the noise. I want my words to have purpose, and to carry hope, encouragement, and truth.
Some messengers of the Lord are hearing Him say that this year is a marking of maturity, like when we turn twenty-one. This makes me hopeful for us, the body of Christ, the Church - the Bride, and I'm expectant for us to rise up and shine. It's exciting to imagine the Church rising up and confidently taking our place!
Thinking more on maturity, as I celebrated my birthday last November, the Holy Spirit brought to mind the memory of graduating from high school. He often speaks to me in pictures, and I believe this one is for us all. Perhaps this message of marking an end of one stage and entering into the next phase of growing up is not just for me, but also for you. I believe it's time to share!
In my time with the Lord I was reminded of the memory of standing in my driveway, ready to leave home and head towards the graduation ceremony at the small Christian school that I'd attended since I was four. It was June and my cheeks were kissed with a good sprinkling of freckles; I was wearing a new white dress, feeling excited, determined, and ready!
Think back to your own graduation, remember joining your classmates and walking the stage and how it was a representation of a completion of time and study, work and requirement. It was a marking of a season of preparation that had come to an end, and a graduating into maturity; an entering into life as a young-adult.
I remember being full of feelings, sad about not seeing my friends every day, happy to be finished with school for a while, and a bit unsure about the future. But so ready to face the world, so ready to grow up.
Ready to walk the stage, none of us knew just what the future would hold. We couldn't see the challenges that we'd face or the joys we'd get to experience. We didn't know exactly what it would look like to grow up, but we had an idea, and anticipation hung all around us like helium balloons filling the room!
Over thirty years later and with a better understanding of the depth of sorrow and the heights of heart-filling joy that adulthood actually consists of, I watched the memory of standing in my driveway wearing a white dress, holding my emerald-green cap and gown in hand, and as it played out, I heard the Lord talk about a graduation. I heard Him speak of a marking of maturity.
I sensed that we, the Church, have been prepared for this time, and that there's great purpose in living in these days. Although we can't know exactly what the future yet holds, we can have a sense of readiness and an anticipation for the good that's to come - both the challenges and the joys that we'll get to be a part of! Just like that day when we threw our caps high into the air, we still have a lot to experience and a lot to learn, but we're ready to enter into this new time as a more mature and secure child of God.
How do we enter into this next level of maturity and face the things that surround us with strength, wisdom, truth and grace, and keep growing mature? (We know we won't get it just right, and that's okay!) We just need to keep stepping into what God has prepared for us to be a part of. And maturity and anticipation will help us to step out in faith.
In Revelation 19, John writes about the upcoming Marriage Supper of the Lamb, the time when the Bride (that's us!) will be joined to Jesus forever. He describes the sound of praise surrounding our King like the roar of many waters and he explains, "His bride has made herself ready" (7). We must make ourselves ready.
To keep growing and walk in the maturity that the Lord has brought us to, we continue to seek Him first - His presence, His Word and wisdom. We keep doing what we have practiced and prepared to do...we worship the Lord with our lives, not just on Sundays, but in our homes and in our work and relationships. We honor God in word and action (John 4:24). We trust Him and obey what He leads us to do. We seek His Word and live by it (John 14:21). And we stay connected with the family of God (Hebrews 10:24-25).
These things are not new for the life a believer, they are the practices that move us into maturity. They strengthen and enable us to do hard things. They make us ready for presenting ourselves beautiful to Jesus as His bride.
Looking at His life and learning from His example, we see what maturity looked like as we read about what Jesus did just before going to the Cross. John records, "He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him" (John 13:4-5, ESV).
Jesus said, "For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you" (vs 15).
How do we step into our maturity? We do like Jesus did and look for ways to wash the feet beside us. Like stepping down off the graduation stage, we step into something new and unknown, and act on the love that's in our hearts. We do what God has uniquely prepared us to do. We have crossed the stage!
Ask the Lord:
In what ways have you prepared me to walk in greater maturity?
For further meditation and prayer, quiet yourself before the Lord and ask Him to show you the need around you that He has equipped you to help Him meet. Or maybe He's already been highlighting a need. It can be growing in prayer, more faithfully reading His Word, giving of your time or resources, stepping out in faith to lead, or any variety of ways! I believe the Lord will show you exactly what's on His heart for you.
As you listen, I pray the atmosphere around you will fill with anticipation as you courageously step into the unknown and obey the Lord's leading. Be expectant of what God will do as He partners with you to shine His light into dark places!
A Prayer Response -
Father, thank you for preparing me for such a time as this! I know that I still have a lot to learn, but I also celebrate what you've taught me thus far. Lord, show me the need around me that you would have me to help You meet. I believe that I am equipped for this work. Please lead me with your wisdom and your Word, by your Spirit, as I step out in obedience and demonstrate my love for you.
I love you, Lord!
In Jesus name.