“ALL growth is Spiritual Growth.”
– Dr. Henry Cloud
I’m reading the book of Hosea. I’m amazed how God sometimes with alluring kindness, sometimes with harsh anger tries to draw his people back to him. The whole scene is like a Broken Record: the same thing is repeated over and over again and the people of Israel is stuck, they don’t grow nor develop. They got stuck and can’t move forward. But listening to a broken record is extremely irritating.
We all experience shorter or longer times when our life sounds like a “Broken Record”. There are things that can get us stuck and we can’t move forward. Some got stuck in an offense they can’t forget, others got stuck in depression, or in a dependent relationship or habit; many got stuck in fears, or in a false image of themselves, of others, of situations or of God. These “halts” are extremely tiring, can be irritating to others around us, can stop our growth and can isolate us from people.
God teaches us two things through Hosea that could cause our life to sound like a “broken record” hindering our growth:
1. Wrong view of God – we don’t see Who He really is.
“I would redeem them, but they speak lies against me. They do not cry to me from the heart, but they wail…gash…rebel… they devise evil against me.” (7:13-14)
God is able and willing to redeem us from destructive habits and relationships, from self-pity, from fears, from hopelessness, from hurting relationships, from the inability of making decisions or commitments, from selfishness, from the inability of trusting others, from self-defense mechanisms, from uncontrolled anger, from compulsion of being recognized, from our pains, etc. etc.
But He CAN NOT redeem us, WHEN:
a. We just wail, gash and rebel instead of crying to him from the heart. We usually either deny our problems or we complain about them. Nor denial, nor complaining (which is self-pity) solves our problems, but they toss us deeper into our problems. Our problems can only be solved when we take them to the feet of the One who has enough power and mercy to solve them.
b. We accuse God speaking or thinking lies about Him.
c. We devise evil about him. When we think God is angry at us. When we think he wants something bad for us. When we think we can’t trust completely in His goodness and in His perfect, loving plan for us.
“One of the biggest obstacles to growth is our view of God. People must discover that God is for them and not against them.“ – Dr. Henry Cloud
2. Wrong view of ourselves – we don’t see our selves as God views us.
“When I would heal Israel, the iniquity… is revealed… but they do not consider.” (7:1.2.)
The other great obstacle of growth or healing is that we don’t view ourselves as God views us.
First, our growth can become stuck when we don’t see and own our sins or responsibilities in our problems and we are continually shifting blames and accusing others, our circumstances or God. In order to grow we need Grace and Truth – Christ was full with both (John 1:14). Grace can only embrace and cover what Truth has revealed. We can only experience God’s grace to the level we are willing to face the brutal reality about ourselves. Where we deny our responsibilities or shifting it, there God’s grace can’t heal us. The Spirit came to convict us about our sin (Jn 16:8), so we could experience Grace. The Devil is trying to keep it hidden and denied so Grace couldn’t touch it and heal it.
Second, our growth can become stuck when we want to become someone else God created us to be or we want to have other kind of things (circumstances, abilities, relationships, gifts) God gave us. We all had been created for the image of God. If we don’t like the “image” than we have an issue with the “Original” that the “image” was made of. If we have issues with the “image of God” we carry and represent than we will have problems with other “images of God” who had been created to reflect the “Original” as well. We must love the “Original” in order to be able to love the “images of the Original”.
If we don’t want our life to be a “broken record” which plays the same tiring and irritating tone over and over again, but we want the heavenly music composed by God played in and through us than we need to view God as who He really is and we need to view ourselves as who we really are.