This is an exciting time of year. Students everywhere are finishing one level of learning and preparing to move to the next. And the graduates? We love to see those who completed an entire course of study that took many months or years standing in unison, donned in gowns of accomplishment, throwing their caps high in the air. Truly, their victory is an inspiration for us all to stay the course, fully prepared to take the best next step of our lives.
As believers, we are taking the course of a lifetime that leads to progressively sweeter, deeper, more powerful experiences with God, and a fuller, more rewarding life. We are students—disciples—constantly preparing for our next step: in this life, and in the next. Through every stage and circumstance, God works in us to set our minds above the flesh (our old nature) and on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5). Why?
“For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (v. 6).
Being spiritually minded doesn’t mean we walk in the clouds with no footing on solid ground. Rather, it means we maintain a solid footing in life by setting our minds on God and His way of doing things. Being spiritually minded means, in and through every situation, we draw near to Him so we will take our best next step: one that leads to completion, both spiritually and in the natural—not the “next best step” that will get us off track. As we walk in the Spirit, we can experience His life and supernatural peace, even when things don’t appear to be going the way we’d like.
God works it all together
Not long after my daughter graduated from college, she made a sudden decision to move with a friend to Los Angeles, California. My husband and I talked frankly with her, trying to understand her impulse to instantly relocate almost 1,500 miles from home. But a couple of days later, she was on the highway headed west, her dream of working in television before her. My heart was heavy, but my daughter was an adult who could legally make her own decisions. I had to let go. My best next step was to trust God, pray, and be there when she needed me.
Long story short, she had difficult times before deciding to expand her job search nationwide. About a year after her West-Coast move, she landed a position as a news producer in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We were more than happy to help her get settled in her new home, though it would prove to be a big adjustment. My daughter is a big-city girl. Now she was living in a place where one could reach the outskirts of town driving about ten minutes in any direction. Needless to say; before long, she was miserable.
But God was working all things together for good. During her two-plus years in Sioux Falls, she started seeking God again. And the Lord began speaking to her heart, answering her prayers in amazing ways. She found a church home and a wonderful pastor. But along the way, she met a young man, who although was active in ministry, turned out to not be God’s best for her. My daughter’s heart was broken, and my heart sank, but I prayed and prayed the Lord would use this situation to draw her closer to Him. Then He opened an incredible producing opportunity in Chicago, the number three media market in the U.S. After a miraculous sequence of events, she was soon off to continue pursuing her career.
Graduation Day is coming!
Walking in the Spirit gets real. In your face. Many times, it keeps you on your face before God, crying out to Him, giving Him your cares, praying for others, and thanking Him for working out His will. There are countless situations we face daily, hourly, even moment by moment. Each gives us an opportunity to submit to God and resist the temptation to set our minds on the flesh and do things from our old nature. With each test, we can grow in the Spirit: set our focus on the Lord, learn from Him, and do things His way. (See Matthew 11:29–30.)
I once heard that the tests we come through in life like those we take in school. They measure what we have learned. They show us what we have mastered and what we still need to work on. When we pass with flying colors, hooray! And when we need to strengthen some areas, we can be thankful, for we can receive grace to revisit issues, take our best next steps, and pass the final exam.
Here are three ways we can successfully complete our course of study in this life:
- Be a student of the Word: at home (personal study) and at church (corporate study)
- Be a student of the Spirit: worship and pray, by ourselves and with others
- Become a graduate: learn obedience in every situation, and then take our next step
When we belong to God, who loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son to die on our behalf, we can graduate in and through every situation. How? He is working in us both to will and do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). Because of what Jesus has done, Father God puts the desire in our heart to please Him and then empowers us by His Spirit to obey Him. We just need to believe Him and take our best next step. That’s how we move from “faith to faith” and from “glory to glory.” (See Romans 1:16–17 and 2 Corinthians 3:17–18.)
I can’t tell you that I passed every test with flying colors during my daughter’s early transitions. But I can gratefully say that God helped me to keep my footing and come through it, step by step. He’ll do the same for you, my friend. And I’m excited to share that not only is she continuing to make leaps and bounds in her career; most importantly, she is about to marry the man of her dreams. The man I prayed for since she was a baby. Oh, yes! A wonderful graduation day is coming soon.
What is God working in you? What situations is He working out in your life? I thank God, that as His child, the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the power of sin and death. I thank Him for condemning sin in the flesh in your life and empowering you to walk in the Spirit. With everything you are going through, know that God is preparing you to take your best next step.
We don’t have to live according to our old nature and react the way we did in the past. We can set our mind on the things of the Spirit, receive life and peace, and step up to new levels of life and learning in God. (See Romans 8:2–6) This is God’s will for you and me; I urge you to receive and declare it. We can live every day knowing graduation day is on the way—both now and in the life to come. Think about it. One day, we will stand together, each donning a new spiritual body. In unison, we will raise our hands to God and worship Him, not for what we have accomplished, but for who He is and what He has done…on Earth and in eternity.
“Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].” Romans 8:6 (AMP)
Featured photograph by Vasily Koloda/Unsplash.com