How Far into the Woods Have You Traveled?

The more growing closer to Jesus becomes our greatest desire, the darker some of the seasons we live through become. These seasons in life aren’t consequences we have to face for a mistake or bad decision. They are simply a part of our growth.

The more growing closer to Jesus becomes our greatest desire, the darker some of the seasons we live through become. These seasons in life aren’t consequences we have to face for a mistake or bad decision. They are simply a part of our growth.

As a disciple of Jesus, growth is something we need to want. I’m not going to go all in and say it has to be what is most important. I won’t say that because I know how difficult it is to live that life. I have tried and failed miserably more times than I can count. Most of this is because I could not accomplish this goal no matter how much I wanted to. I’ve always allowed something to get in the way.

Making It More Important

However, I am willing to say there are probably many people reading this in the same boat as I am. Growing closer to Jesus has to become a more important part of my life. Simply talking or giving a speech isn’t enough. There has to be more action involved. I can’t reach perfection. I simply have to make growing closer to Him more important.

I’ve acknowledged this fact in my own mind for a little over two years now. I’ve begged God to allow me to experience Him in ways I never have before. I wanted everything about who I was to be more about Him. I’ve spent more nights than I count on my knees begging God to teach me how to grow.

A Dark Season

Since growth has become so important to me, I’ve experienced more than one dark, life-changing season. Just for the record, I consider a season in life to be right around 120 days. I’ve gone months at a time when it has felt like I couldn’t find God regardless of how hard or where I looked. I was angry with Him about it. My prayers felt dry. Meditation became so frustrating; I’d go weeks without enjoying my time with Him every morning.

I’m not going to go into details, but I’ve gone about two seasons in a row now that have been darker than anything I’ve ever experienced. During the last few weeks of this period, my prayers became so short and half-hearted that I’d beg for forgiveness of my wasted prayer as soon as I got off my knees and crawled into bed.

Related Post: Enduring Life’s Storms

There have been times in the past when I have come out of these dark periods and the growth was self-evident immediately. This time has been different. It’s been a type of growth I’ve never experienced before. There hasn’t necessarily been a significant positive change, other than everything my eyes and finally, heart, have been opened up to. Areas in life I need to make more important.

Life has been difficult, and I haven’t handled it well. Peace and serenity have been pretty far and in-between. A simple look at the dates of my last six personal blog posts makes this evident. This is the first time things have gotten so dark that I’ve lost any desire to write. For those who know me personally, that’s saying a lot.

A Season of Growth

That being said, I was able to recognize the period of time for what it was. I was mad at God because I was hurting, but deep down, I knew what it was. A season that would eventually start producing growth. I knew that as long I kept begging, eventually, the light would start growing brighter.

The closer and more intimate we become with Jesus, the more growth is able to shape who He wants us to be. We begin to crawl out of these difficult times with a new freedom about us. A new element of our heart has been exposed to His love and grace. Another part of who we are becomes more like Him and less of the person we used to be.

In the Book of Hosea, there’s a Scripture I purposely try to read as much as I can during these seasons of growth. In verse 14 of chapter two, God says, “Therefore, I will now allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.”

There are two facts we need to realize about this passage. Bare with me for a minute if you are already aware of them. For starters, the “her” God is referring to is the people of Israel. His chosen people. The very people He had given the original task of spreading His glory throughout the world.

Second of all, the wilderness of the Old Testament isn’t the beautiful, green forest you drive through today at a state park. It was dark. The land was dry. Everything was usually dead or at least close to. It wasn’t anywhere you’d want to go for a family vacation.

Finding Ourselves in the Dark

This dreadful place is where God would “allure” His people. He would lead them there to “Speak tenderly to them.” In order to grow closer to the Israelites, God would lead them to places they were afraid of. They would travel through areas of life they were unsure they would ever make it out. Once the Israelites realized God was all they had to reach for, He would pull them in and hug them with a peace so comforting it changes everything.

I think many us, including myself at times, allow the enemy to tell us growth is something God owes us. Don’t get me wrong, salvation is a free gift we only receive through the grace and work of Jesus on the cross. However, putting Him first in life takes work. It has to be something we want more today than we did yesterday. In order to experience Jesus in ways we never have, sometimes we must journey through life in ways we never thought we could make it through. Eventually, we have to be willing to go further into the woods than we ever wanted to go. This is the only way to experience the light in a way we never have before.

Written by Jeffrey Stevens

My greatest blessings and responsibilities in life are my wife and our children. I'm a theology student at Aidan University and the Founder and President of Gospel Grammar. My goals as a writer are to inspire others to seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and encourage them to live a Gospel centered life.

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