Embracing Growth.

 "A goal without a plan is just a wish." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

"A goal without a plan is just a wish." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

I recently read this quote while I was looking for apartment ideas on Pinterest. On one hand, I was proactively making plans to reach a goal. On the other hand, I was probably procrastinating on school work. Regardless of how I came across it, the message struck me as important not only for my personal life, but for my spiritual life as well. One of my hopes is to actively pursue spiritual gifts. Walking in spiritual gifts is not only a blessing to myself and the church body, but also to people who do not yet know God. But how have I made these hopes into goals? How do I prioritize the hopes that I have for my spiritual life with relational, personal, career or academic goals? What are the mission, vision and core values that ultimately drive these goals?

Actively Embracing Churchwide Vision

As a church, we are re-envisioning our commitment to our core values of encountering God, discipleship, and missions by expressing them in a fresh way. As a church family, we will be embracing the Holy Spirit, healthy relationships, and a heart for the nations. This past Sunday, Jordan spoke about how we have the choice to embrace or resist. As a church, I believe we have a value for each of these three areas. However, how are we actively embracing growth to move towards this vision? How are we turning hopes and wishes into goals?

One way that Jordan directed us in embracing the Holy Spirit was to test in our own lives our response to the Holy Spirit. Are we...

  1. Despising some gift of the Holy Spirit?
  2. Neglecting some gift we have?
  3. Shutting down our emotions and refusing to give expression to them?
  4. Resisting the fruit of the Spirit in our lives?

1 Corinthians 12:7-11 states that:

“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.”

A Season of Growth: How action brought fruit to my hopes

When I first started attending Antioch in Waco my first year of college, I realized that people in church and my life group walked in many of these gifts, and I often saw the fruits of their faithfulness impacting my life and many others. In a desire to grow in gifts of the Spirit, I started to be more intentional about participating in church community through life group, prayer meetings, and services. I also began to be discipled by people in my life group. This accountability helped me spend more time reading the bible and making time to “be still” before God. I grew a lot spiritually during my four years of college, particularly in the area of prophecy (also known in the church as encouragement). Then after graduation, I decided to do the discipleship school. I was nervous about walking out in gifts of the Spirit, and I wanted to encounter more of God, so it felt very clear to me that this was the next step. The discipleship school brought me in contact with the Antioch in Ann Arbor, and I haven’t looked back since. 

Embracing the Holy Spirit

God is continually at work in us, and the work that Jesus has begun on earth is not done either. Contrary to popular belief in our culture, the work of salvation does not end with revelation of the cross- it begins there.

How we work out our salvation comes as we embrace the Holy Spirit and fullness of life in Christ. 

As we step into this week, my prayer is that we would intentionally take time in our normal rhythms to engage the Holy Spirit. This can be as simple as praying as we walk around the grocery store for people, and if we hear a word of encouragement for someone, to be bold enough to share that word. If that sounds absolutely crazy to you, that’s okay. If you recognize that you’re not “there,” take some time to identify what that next step is for you. Maybe it’s seeking out someone to disciple you, or more actively participating in community through a life group. Maybe it’s setting aside time in your day to read the Bible and meditate on scripture. Maybe it’s a conversation with a trusted friend. It’s okay to be right where you are, but I hope it encourages you to know that there is always more. And as we discover that truth more in our own lives, I hope that we will, in increasing measure, own the value that our gifts have to ourselves, our spheres of influence, and beyond.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us”
Ephesians 3:20

About the Author: Gabby is currently a graduate student at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. This summer, she will not only be graduating but also getting married to her future husband, who she met at the climbing gym. Geography is her favorite subject, and as the American daughter of Filipino immigrants, she is no stranger to a diversity of food, culture and travel.