Nature and nurture are two very different concepts… Within many churches today, it appears we are emphasizing nurture as the means to spiritual growth. We’re told we should focus on nurture through small groups, personal Bible study, accountability groups, and special events that spur us on to new commitments. Of course some of these things can be helpful. But do you see what I see? The Bible talks about considering ourselves dead to sin and realizing that God has raised us up and seated us with him (Romans 6:11, Ephesians 2:6). In light of these truths about nature, we’re told to not let sin reign and to set our minds on things above (Romans 6:12; Colossians 3:2). This is not nurture talk; this is nature talk! —Andrew McFarley
“In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” —Romans 6:11 NIV
“For I know the thoughts I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11.
Since I last wrote, quite a bit has changed. I moved, went back to school for a year, took out more student loans, quit my first job, started a new one, moved again. I made new friends and watched others move to new states and countries. I witnessed one best friend get married and start her new life, while I witnessed another person her age lose theirs. On a lighter note, I sold my beloved P.T. Cruiser and bought my first over-$1K vehicle, a Subaru. I traveled to South America and New York City.
Needless to say, there were several priorities that took over my attention—one thing after another. My energy was pretty constantly going towards what was next and whichever decision had to be made. When this felt like too much, I’d say “it’s just what being 25 is all about.” And “I’ll establish a routine someday, but not today.”
Then I’d witness my parents’, siblings’, coworkers’ and friends’ lives and I realize, it really doesn’t stop. It’s not just my crazy life, it is life.
Through these all-encompassing transitions and the resulting lack of routine, I experienced a lot of inconsistencies in my spiritual practices. Frequently, I felt there was no time for church, writing this blog or quiet time with God. Moreover, the more times I didn’t pursue those priorities, the bigger the sense that when I did find time for them, I’d feel disconnected and judged. I was often fearful that fellow church-goers wouldn’t see me as valid, my writings wouldn’t be as authentic and in talking to God, I’d have to apologize. This all stemmed from my guilt in appearing inconsistent to God and to others.
What the quotes above and Andrew McFarley’s message remind me is that’s not God’s way.
Our God is ever-present and therefore, always ready for you. His nature is greater than our own ability to nurture. His nature is to consistently welcome, forgive, love, listen and be here for you.
Two notes regarding this. For one, the only times we don’t let that fully sink in is when we let our human brains try to comprehend it. In our world, there isn’t anything that’s constant or ever-forgiving. But as He’s telling us, He is different than our world.
And second, this isn’t to say that consistency and showing up means nothing—getting into a routine of spiritual practices can be tremendously helpful. What I am getting at (and what Andrew McFarley’s message is, too) is God’s consistency makes up for how inconsistent we are.
We can let our lack of comprehension or our fear of judgment get in the way all we want. Meanwhile, He’s waiting, ready for us to experience His constant closeness.