by Stacy Rist; Guest Writer
Have you ever gotten lost driving? I know I do…easily. Those that know me can attest to the fact that I’m directionally challenged! Several years ago as I was working at a church in Tennessee, one of my duties was to make hospital visits. I think I got lost nearly every time I visited a hospital that first year. I would call the church receptionist for directions, as I didn’t have a GPS, but thank goodness I had a cell phone! Eventually I figured it out by writing myself very specific driving directions that I kept in the car. Otherwise I’d quickly be on my way in the wrong direction.
Just as we may make a wrong turn driving, we may make choices that negatively redirect our spiritual route. Getting side-tracked in sanctification happens more than we would care to admit. But it happens and it happens to each of us. Thankfully, there is GRACE for the side-tracked, even the off-tracked, children of God. He never gives up on us and we shouldn’t give up on ourselves.
When we accept Jesus Christ (the Son) as our personal Lord and Savior, we become justified before a holy, almighty God (the Father) in that instant. Sanctification is the process of continual spiritual growth, fostered by God, through the Holy Spirit. [It's so amazing how the three persons of the God-Head (i.e. The Trinity) are evident in this!] One of our associate pastors defines sanctification as “becoming in practice what God has declared in truth.” In other words, it is the spiritual journey we continue on in our lives post-salvation.
Sometimes we may feel so side-tracked we’re not sure where God’s path is any more. The easiest remedy to find God’s path is to find God. It really IS simple, but we tend to make it more complicated. Fortunately, He’s not hard to find. So where is God found?
First, God is found in the Bible…His Word. Have you gotten out of the habit of reading the Bible? Get back in it. Pick up your Bible and read it. Daily. Diligently. It doesn’t have to be extensive but it does need to be purposeful. For example, start with the book of John, read a chapter each day, or even a paragraph of verses. Another option is to read a chapter of Proverbs a day. As Proverbs has 31 chapters, reading a chapter a day easily corresponds to each day of the month.
Second, God is found in the midst of His believers. If you’ve gotten away from the regular attendance and fellowship of a Bible-believing (and preaching!) church, find one in your area and start back. Take a friend or neighbor so you’ll have a buddy. Do not forsake the fellowship of the body of Christ and its impact on our sanctification. The beautiful thing about God’s grace is that no matter how little or far we may be side-tracked, we can always get back ON track.
Finally, God is found 24/7 by prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. He is never too busy to listen and He earnestly desires to hear from us. More than that, He desires to speak to us through His Word, His church and through the Holy Spirit that resides in every born-again believer.
You now have a “road map”, if you will, to direct your path of personal sanctification. Do not be discouraged when you get side-tracked again…we all will. Our journey is rarely easy. Many obstacles will be set up to prevent our progress by the enemy. Remember, Christ has triumphed!
Dear Jesus, please give us the strength to walk in a manner worthy of Your calling.
Here’s to JOY in your journey, my friends!
Stacy Rist loves serving within her local church. She is passionate about teaching God’s Word and discipling women to grow in their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A native of Virginia, she decided to make North Carolina her home after graduating from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003 with her M.Div. in Christian Education. Stacy also enjoys experimenting with recipes and sharing her love of cooking with friends as often as possible. She loves hosting Saturday brunches, reading, water aerobics, journaling, laughing with friends, and spending time with her 15 yr old golden retriever, Maddie.