By Joseph Diop
Copyright © 2017 by Joseph Diop
God is a master builder, a loving Father, a wise instructor, and as the old saints used to say, “a heart regulator.” So, he knows just how to bring us along in faith. He is also the expert farmer, with a green thumb. He knows how to get his tender plants through every phase of development, regardless of the seeming difficulties or adverse conditions. He is the Master of masters, the Expert of experts, and the Keeper of all things. As such, he knows how to grow our hearts in faith, without any question at all of procedure, course, or system. He knows what he’s doing with us. And, we are at all times in good hands with him. As the scripture says, we may at all times, “Commit the keeping of their souls to him… as unto a faithful Creator (1Peter 4:19).
We, the children of God, likewise have to grow gradually in faith, until we reach maturity.
From newborn babes at the moment of our repentance and regeneration, unto full grown men and women of mature faith and virtue, we must traverse the ages and stages of spiritual growth and development. Little by little, and lot by lot, is how we inherit the kingdom (Ezekiel 23:29-30). I call this process and phenomenon “Jacob’s Ladder,” the step by step method God uses to get us all the way to the fullness of Christ. And, God does get us there by his own expert care and nurturing.
In the 47th chapter of the book of the prophet Ezekiel (verses 1-12), God uses the analogy of wading into a river, to teach us about gradually being introduced into the fullness of life in the Spirit. The river itself, represents the Holy Spirit of the kingdom. Verses 6-12 tell us that. For that River, turns the very Dead Sea, representing the original deadness of our souls, into a body teeming with fish (representing the prolific fruitfulness of our regenerated spirits). With fruit trees on every shore of the riverbank, those trees produce every month. This represents the endless fruitfulness that we experience, when we are filled with the Holy Spirit and yield to Him continually. But getting from infancy in the Spirit, to maturity, to full-blown perfection in the knowledge of Christ, has some scary moments. And, along the way, God has to reassure us of his faithfulness and his sovereign care. As the scripture promises, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown” (Isaiah 43:2 NCV).
But now, let’s examine this process, laid out in Ezekiel, and see what we can learn.
3 With a line in his hand the man went out toward the east and measured a thousand cubits… and had me wade across the stream; the water came up to my ankles. 4 He measured another thousand and had me wade through the water, which reached my knees. He measured another thousand and had me wade through water up to my waist. 5 Finally he measured a thousand, and it was a river I couldn’t cross on foot, because the water was so deep one would have to swim across; it was a river that could not be waded through. Ezekiel 47:3-5
I want to share just five lessons that I have learned from this process, which hopefully will assist you in navigating the waters of your own spiritual growth and development.
- 1). Follow you first mind. Your first mind is your God mind. I used to hear the older saints say all the time, “I should have followed my first mind.” God intends to make being led by the Spirit easy and natural for us. So, he puts his leading where we can get it without any difficulty or delay – in the very forefront of our minds. If we will practice accepting that very first impulse without doubting, we will find that following that first mind is indeed identical with following the leading of the Spirit.
- 2). Stop second guessing your first mind, and stop back-tracking. He who does such things is double-minded and unstable (James 1:5-8). If you become confused because your second thought seems to overwhelm your first mind, then STOP. Ask God for clarification. Just admit out loud, “Lord, I’m confused. I don’t know what to do.” God seems to like that prayer. His Holy Spirit will answer back with a clear and fresh impulse, and knowledge of what is to be done will be very quickly reinstated. Then, immediately just go with that fresh impulse. And, all that you have done is to take time to pray. We haven’t lost a thing. And, the will and direction of God is once again clear to us.
- 3). Follow your feet. They belong to your body, which is owned, operated, and motivated by God. Remember? “Your BODY is the temple of the Holy Ghost… and you are not your own… You are bought with a price” (1Cor 6:19-20). God literally wants to take full control of your very body. And, that’s just what he will do, if you will submit and let him. So, without any referral to your conscience mind, sometimes your feet will take off in a direction, which you yourself can’t explain at the time. But, that’s perfectly okay. That’s just the Captain and Helmsman taking charge of his ship.
- 4). Walk by faith. But You say, “Lord, if I follow my feet, I won’t know where I am going.” Precisely. Have you not read? “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out… obeyed… NOT KNOWING WHERE HE WAS GOING (Hebrews 11:8). That is the life of real faith. Some folk mockingly call it, “a leap in the dark.” Look. We are already in the dark, until the word of God comes to us. Then, we know that we are going to land in the light. But this training will definitely deliver us to a state of humility and lowliness of mind. And, that is a very good thing.
- 5). Trust God implicitly. Wholly commit to the Spirit. Surrender to the deep. Relinquish control. Let God have his way. God will not let you be overwhelmed nor disappointed. Did you not read? “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. When you cross rivers, you will not drown” (Isaiah 43:2 NCV). This is where the fundamental and basic first-principle of relating to God comes in. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5).
Getting to the place where you practice these things spontaneously and automatically is the stuff of Christian maturity. Like that river in Ezekiel 47, God wants to get you to the place where you are continuously and abundantly fruitful, and flowing with might in the Spirit at all times. If you just trust God and his process, he will get you there surely and safely. The word promises, “He which has begun a good work in you will perform it, until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6). And, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me. The Lord will not forsake the work of his hands” (Psalm 138:8). Amen. Selah.