I would think that after having been a Christian for 37 years now, I could finally say, “I’ve arrived.” But I haven’t. In fact, in many respects, I feel that I have more to learn and develop spiritually than I did 25 years ago. It’s probably true that 25 years ago I thought I had arrived much more so than I do today.
What does it mean “to arrive”? Do we ever think we reach a level of spiritual growth where we can put our faith on auto-pilot? Unfortunately, I think many of us do. In the past, we read the Bible with passion, but now we do so simply to check that off our spiritual to-do list. Many of us reach a point in life where we cruise through our Scripture reading, drift through our worship, and slumber through our prayers. Gone are the days of intensity, intentionality, and diligence in deepening our faith.
But we can recapture the fire once again. This is not to suggest that living the Christian life is always one of deep-seated passion. Periodically we experience the mountaintops, but most of life is lived in the valley. But it’s in the valley where the ground is fertile and the rivers flow. The valley affords us seasons of growth—if we watch for them and enter a rhythm of planting, watering, weeding, and even, at times, pruning.
Spiritual development is not an event but a process. Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” One day after another of dedication and sacrifice, rest and renewal, all in a cadence covered with the peace that surpasses understanding (Philippians 4:7). Following Jesus is keeping in step with His Spirit (Galatians 5:25), where we take up His yoke and learn from Him all the while finding rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29-30).
An ancient tale is told of someone asking a monk, “So, what do you do in the monastery?” The monk responds, “Oh, we fall and we get up. We fall and we get up.” In Christian spirituality, we never arrive; we are always arriving. May one day the words of the Apostle Paul be true in our lives as well: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).