One day in Germany Barbara said to me, “You certainly are easier to live with NOW than you used to be!” “That’s because of my ongoing revival,” I said.
That little conversation made me think more about what the Lord was doing in my life. It was clear that many of the sins and wrong attitudes that had for years dictated my responses, especially my emotional ones, were much less prominent in my life now.
My anger, my fear of man, my touchiness, my laziness, my anxiety, my impatience had all greatly diminished. Looking back, I could see the progression. It was like a “J” curve.
A “J” curve is a graph where there is minute, incremental growth for a long time, and then it turns a corner and rises upward in an almost straight line. A graph of the increase of the world population is a “J” curve.
The explosive growth of knowledge in the 20th century is another “J curve.”
In my spiritual life there had been slow and steady growth as I consistently sought the Lord in my quiet time, prayer time, memorization of Scripture and meditation on Scripture. I did not see a lot of big surges, but the trajectory was continually upward.
Then, starting with my personal revival in the fall of 2006, my spiritual life began to turn a corner, rising sharply upward at an increasing rate of speed. The Lord was using all the groundwork of the previous forty years of my life to build this upward turn. With this turn of events, it became easier to stand against sin, to praise when I didn’t feel like it, to trust God when things were going wrong, to let go, hold on and rise above, to train my emotions to follow Truth.
Along with “easier” came “harder.” The challenges became greater, with more opportunities to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving (Psalm 50:23). Where grace increases, so do the opportunities to use it. I expect this upward trajectory to continue as I intentionally cooperate with God in keeping the “vivacious cycle” going: worshiping to nurture my “first love” for Jesus, which leads to an ongoing revival, which then brings opportunities to make more worldview shifts.
This is like freedom on steroids—freedom to serve Him, to be a blessing to others, to lead the way to giving greater glory to God. It is, I believe, the life that God wants for all of us. It is what He is leading us toward through His discipline: “…we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live!” (Hebrews 12:9).
He wants us to really live, and to do so in His power. He is eager for us to see the things that prevent us from doing so. He wants to shine the light of His presence and Truth on the path before us so we can see what sins are causing us to stumble over and over again. To do this He disciplines us with the consequences of our poor choices, our faulty thinking, our stubborn selfishness. Then, when He has our attention, He can lead us out of our self-imposed darkness into the Light of His Love.
It all starts with meeting with Him every day. When we awake, He is there, waiting for us, desiring to spend time with us. The question is, are we willing to do that? To spend time in worship, in confession, in whole-heartedly reading His Word, in tenaciously praying? And then obeying what we know to be true?
This is where the trajectory of your spiritual life starts to rise. And my life story tells you where it goes: upward and onward with Him into ever-increasing freedom, joy and usefulness.