I haven’t written in a very long time. About six months ago, I started to shut down. My life became a revolving door of stuff, money and a crippling addiction that I managed privately. I stopped really praying and my quiet time dwindled to a mere 5 minutes in the morning.
No one knew what was going on with me. I worked on building my business, sharing the gospel and remaining active in the church.
I had convinced myself that I was doing great, until I walked away from my job of three years to focus on my business.
In the wake of very little distractions, I started to feel the thorns come up to choke me. Darkness started to form around me and I was left feeling confused over the state of my life.
For those of you unfamiliar with my story, five years ago, I reached a point where I felt like I needed to come to God in a new way. I needed to see Him as my greatest treasure. So, on a Tuesday, I asked God to strip my life of anything that was standing in the way of fellowship with Him. By Friday, my life had turned upside down and by Saturday, I found myself alone in a seedy hotel room after leaving my parents’ home in the middle of the night.
I spent the holidays alone during that time and started attending counseling to deal with my upbringing. People would comment that they had never known anyone learn, heal or grow as fast as I had during that time. I convinced myself that God was doing a miraculous thing in my life for a purpose.
But here’s the thing:
Fast growth isn’t healthy growth.
Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked the tender plants. – Matthew 13:7
The story of the seeds on four different types of soil is a famous one. Most commonly, pastors say that the parable illustrates true salvation.
What if we’re wrong?
What if the parable is illustrating different seasons of spiritual growth in a believer’s life?
The reality is that at different points of my walk with Christ, I have experienced all four types of soil. I didn’t consider this until I was sitting in church on Sunday, visiting a congregation within the church I was removed from (ironically), that the pastor gave the latter interpretation of this scripture.
For the last six months, I felt choked by thorns of things I thought I had healed from five years ago. And until Sunday at church, I didn’t understand why.
I suppose it would surprise people to know how far I have fallen. To know how rebellious I feel in front of a God I don’t completely understand.
I rarely share my doubts and struggles. This fear of intimacy comes from a very real place, marred by people who used my vulnerability as a weapon against me. There’s the sharp pang in my heart when someone tells me my perception of the world is wrong, or at the very least, flawed. I can’t trust a person who says that and in my eyes, a friend who claims this has a relationship shelf life with me. They get canned responses and feigned vulnerability. They have killed the relationship and they have no idea.
But I have a friend who knows me. She knows me better than anyone and when I have tried to run away from emotional intimacy with her, she has retorted with a simple “no.” She fights hard and fierce for me in a way no one else has.
No one but God.
I came to the end of myself this week. In spite of my rebellion and resistance, I felt a deep yearning for God Himself. Not His miracles. Not His gifts. But simply Him. His presence. His love. His mercy.
And at every given turn, I have had outside forces shoving doubt in front of me. Why follow God? Why believe Jesus?
I asked myself this very question. Why not another religion? Why no religion at all? And then it hit me.
2,000 years ago, there was a man who loved humanity so much that he was nailed on the cross. He believed by dying, he could be the ultimate sacrifice for the fall of man.
It is a love so deep, so reckless, that apart from God, it seems foolish. A man 2,000 years ago thought of me while he died on the cross. The amount of love it takes to do that is unfathomable.
What do I have to lose by accepting that man as the son of God?
Everything. I could lose everything.
But I would gain that same love for people. So I gain everything necessary.
The mark of spiritual maturity is not in avoiding the thorns that spring up but in slaying them so fiercely that you find the good soil along the way.
Or as Paul says, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.