God’s challenge

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April 23, 2018

In this morning’s Fruit of the Vine, Vivian Thornburg remembers her conversion experience that “took place about ninety years ago, and I’ve been journeying with Jesus ever since.” Vivian writes that, in spite of all these years as a Christian, it has been only recently that she “realized that I didn’t really know God like I thought I did.” Vivian had an experience in 2006, “when the voice of God’s Spirit said to me, ‘You have an unforgiving spirit.’”

This, I think, is the mark of spiritual maturity – an ability to hear God’s voice, especially when that voice challenges our assumptions about who we are or what we’ve accomplished. Especially when God’s challenge shocks us. 

Vivian was shocked. “I had never considered my actions through my life as unforgiving. But God opened my eyes to things I had carried around for years – even against some of the dearest people I knew. I realized that unforgiveness had affected my attitudes and actions toward people in ways I never realized, and my heart was shattered with grief for how long I had been influenced by an unforgiving heart.”

I believe the difference between spiritual maturity and spiritual immaturity isn’t whether what we do is good or bad. Instead, when challenged, spiritually immature people double down. Spiritually mature people, on the other hand, are both troubled to see the truth of what they’ve done and relieved to finally know the truth and to be able to do something about it.

Vivian says that though she was “broken-hearted, I prayed for God’s mercy and forgiveness, and ... God’s presence settled on me and filled me with a sense of peace.... But my point is not about forgiveness – only that through God’s convicting word to me, I was drawn into a deeper knowledge of God ... and a stronger sense of God’s invitation.” She continues, “God’s correction offers a chance to know him in ways you hadn’t before. How might you seek to know God’s loving heart more fully when you are corrected?”

Each day’s devotional in Fruit of the Vine is designed to offer an experience akin to traditional Quaker worship, where – out of the silence – someone stands and shares a message that Jesus has given for the larger gathering of worshipers to hear, to contemplate, and to incorporate into their lives together. And I wonder if God has been speaking or might be speaking to you some message that might benefit the larger family of Friends. If you think this might be the case, we’d like to hear from you. Click here for our writer’s guidelines

Eric Muhr

P.S. In this tenuous year of transition, Barclay Press must raise $25,000 in order to remain a going concern. So far this year, we’ve received $16,255 in donations and $3,600 in pledges, getting us nearly 80 percent of the way to where we need to be by the end of the year. Thank you for your continuing prayer, for your words of encouragement, and for your support.


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