Every year when it gets close to my birthday, I start seeking God about what He wants me to focus on as an area of spiritual growth for the coming year. Each time, it has been an amazing journey as He leads me through new spiritual territory. It’s like tackling a new mountain range each year!
I start by praying, asking, and watching for God’s confirmation on the particular topic or focus. Then I’m blown away by how He orchestrates events through the year to teach me specific lessons on whatever that year’s focus is, and also to test me along the way.
For example, the year God led me to focus on purity of heart was a very difficult year. Unexpected and painful opposition was not what I had in mind when I set out to learn about “purity of heart”—but those things were necessary to give me the opportunity to learn that lesson. The year my focus was on learning to trust I was given medical reports on three different occasions indicating life-threatening cancer. The year I focused on humility I spent helping care for my father who was struggling with brain cancer.
Now, after I told you all that, I’m sure you’re ready to jump on board, right? I admit each year’s focus has come with tests. But when I look back, I see that the tests were really opportunities to deepen my spiritual understanding and maturity. And I’ve been able to watch God show up in some amazing ways.
I want to encourage you (if you’re not already doing this) to consider taking this intentional approach in your spiritual growth. You don’t have to wait until it’s your birthday or the start of a new year, you can do it today.
Once God confirms the topic He wants you to focus on, gather a few good books, start researching Scripture references, and apply yourself to some in-depth study. Try memorizing portions of related Scripture. Getting the Word “in” you will bring a depth of meaning and understanding that goes beyond the academic level.
It’s always the right time to seek God about a specific area of growth. Perhaps it’s a fruit of the Spirit, a characteristic described in the beatitudes, or a quality of Christ-likeness.
Have you asked God recently what specific area He wants you to focus on? Are you applying yourself to growth in that area? I’d love to hear about it.