In fact it was on Mother's Day in 1991. I stood before a congregation of strangers and my father on my knees. The person I used to be was buried and a new creation in Christ stood to her feet that day.
Christ entered my soul at that moment but I still didn't realize how that would change my life. I've experienced good years and bad years since then. You could say I've died a few more times up until now. As I turn the corner on another birthday, my mind takes stock of my life thus far.
When a new year looms on the horizon, thinking over the past one is expected in our society. What is not is that we actually learn from our mishaps and our triumphs. If we can pull out last year's list of resolutions and just slap a new date on it to complete our list for this year then we have met society's expectations. God's expectations, however, are a different story.
I did away with resolutions last year when I realized I had fulfilled society's requirements. Through desperate tears I came to the realization that I was living below standards for a daughter of a King. It shamed me that I had recycled His lessons like a list of human resolutions. I had to do better, but how?
I went to the scriptures. In Philippians 3:12, Paul says, "Not that I have now attained [this ideal], or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold (grasp) of and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own." (Amplified Version)
We try so hard to get the things we want out of life and when we fall short, we look to God for answers. Our thinking is backwards. We appeal to our Heavenly Father for direction and He will provide the answers that lead to abundance and fulfillment in life.
What I desire most in the coming year is spiritual maturity. What is it you say? I used to think it had something to do with how long you had been in a church, but God has shown me that that is not the case. People stay in church for years and never grow any closer to God than they were when they first entered the sanctuary.
Have you ever been confronted with a rude salesperson or a traffic jam and you just wanted to lash out? The first two times or so maybe you did, but this time, this time you appealed to the Holy Spirit. He guided you through the situation and left you and others better off for it. That's spiritual maturity.
It doesn't come overnight, but it will come. We read, hear, and see the Word everyday, but if we don't put it into practice, our spiritual lives will become like one of those resolutions we carry over from year to year, lamenting over what is still not accomplished. God desires to give us the deepest wishes of our hearts (Psalm 37:4) if we choose Him as the source of our life.
It is through a level of spiritual maturity that I write this piece. This past year, God has opened my eyes and my heart to Himself. I love Him more now than ever before. I understand Him more now, too. All of my desires have been put into His basket and I wait to see where He will sprinkle them.
Don't get me wrong. I am not perfect. No one is. As Children of God, we strive to be Christ-like every waking moment. We don't always succeed (the rude salesperson in the store!) but we ask forgiveness of the Father and try again next time. Believe me, there will be a "next" time.
With each challenge, there is a lesson to be learned. They aren't always pleasant. Sometimes, they're downright painful, but God always reveals the message in the lesson. Some of the things we thought we wanted so badly, God doesn't want for us. Over time, we come to accept that fact. Another lesson learned and a new level of spiritual maturity attained.
So, as one year falls away and another slowly opens up to us, let's begin again. This does not mean from the beginning. With God, we can pick up where we left offwith the last lesson He tried to teach us. Don't get discouraged because there is no condemnation for the Children of God, only love and guidance. If He is at the top of our "lists", as we come to understand His plan, everything else will surely follow.
Garnet Miller is a freelance writer from Greensboro, NC. She is a columnist and managing editor for Extreme Woman online magazine. She credits God and FaithWriters with giving her a start on the road to fulfilling her writing dreams.