Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Charging ahead confident

Spiritual maturity has been a hot topic in my faith community the past week, filtering into Bible study and worship.

In Bible study, we've been doing a slow reading of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians in a very small group, considering a cluster of verses at a time. Not meditative like Lectio Divina, but focused and personal. One or two of us read a particular translation, then we settle into silence for 20-30 minutes to reflect on basic questions and then share. The recurring queries are:
• What is the main point of the passage?
• What new light do I find in this particular reading?
• Is the passage true to my experience?
• What are the implications for my life?
• What problems do I have with this passage?

It's wonderfully simple and relevant.

In responding to the third question, I thought about my conversations with our last pastor, Dan. He holds a special place as the first adult I could talk with about my faith, God, Jesus or anything spiritual. He didn't always have the answers, which made him so much more approachable, but offered a seasoned ear. I must have expressed frustration about some small nurture groups when he suggested there are crawlers, walkers and runners and if you are a runner, you do not necessarily want to be with crawlers. The concept had never occurred to me before. There are levels of spiritual maturity and knowing where one is can be helpful. Not as a division for superiority or inferiority, but in understanding where you are, whom you can encourage and from whom you may learn. One member suggested that in locating yourself, you are able to discern your strengths and weaknesses.

Our minister, Donne, continued to explore the idea in her message Sunday. She said she took an online quiz that was less than helpful and devised her own signs of spiritual maturity: love, a desire to be useful, openness, fearlessness, humility, patience, faith and an infinite confidence in God. Good markers, I thought.

Then I realized that I am straining to use two systems of measurement in my life: the world's way and also Spirit's. No wonder I feel split and worn out. It seems like I am serving two masters, still looking back to the old way as if I am missing something. My scales look something like this:

The World's                         Spirit's
financial security                love as motivation
status                                     grounding in the spiritual life
accumulation                       detachment, generosity
professional identity          unity, connection, humility
appearance                           depth
power over others               trust in Spirit, reaching out to others
busyness                                silence in worship and prayer

I suppose rectifying this struggle answers the age old question of how to live in this world, but not of it. And doing that, when looking at these scales, for me comes in the form of:
• Being grateful for what I have.
• Listening for, accepting and being confident in God's direction.
• Taking and receiving only what I need.
• Recognizing my uniqueness and using my gifts.
• Letting God shine through me, my inner beauty surfacing.
• Always having the power to pray and seek Spirit.
• Not holding anything over others.
• Balancing the responsibilities of life with silence, time devoted to Spirit and a spiritual life.  

As Nan said in worship, to be spiritually mature is to, basically, "find ways to use who we really are in order to serve."

• How do I think about spiritual maturity?
• Whom may I encourage?
• From whom may I gain wisdom?
• What is my system of measurement?
• How does that square with God's

I am so like
my daughter
when she was

never wanting
to go to bed
before anyone
else for fear
of missing

of value

I can

keep my
neck from

and charge


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