This past weekend, my pastor, Jimmy Carroll, made this enormous statement that has stuck with me since I heard it on Saturday night. And he’s exactly right. In the microwave, drive-thru, on-demand culture in which we live, everything is at our fingertips in an instant … except spiritual growth and relational intimacy with Jesus. No one wants to work for it. Everyone wants to press the “Easy” button of spiritual maturity. The problem is, it doesn’t exist. Spiritual maturity is a life-long process. It’s a relationship with the living God of the universe—a relationship that takes time, effort, struggle and sacrifice to cultivate.
As I was reading Acts 13 this morning, again I was reminded so poignantly of this truth—that there are no short-cuts to spiritual maturity. Scripture says in verse two that “while they (Paul, Barnabas, and the church at Antioch) were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’”
It was in the midst of cultivating a relationship with God their Father that the Holy Spirit showed up and called out Paul and Barnabas for this special missionary work. It was in the spiritual preparation. It was in the prayer and fasting. It was in the trenches of the battle for spiritual intimacy where God saw fit to show up and call them out to the fields ripe for harvest.
Scripture says they were praying and fasting and ministering to the Lord. They weren’t busying themselves with acts of service, or good deeds to the poor or any of that. As if any of those things were bad. No. But, they concerned themselves with what was PRIMARY and of most importance—ministering to the Lord. And it’s in those times of preparation—those times of prayer and fasting—those intimate times with the Savior that believers from all backgrounds and walks of life so quickly want to skip and short-circuit—it’s in those times on our knees where the real work begins, and where God, the Holy Spirit can begin to open up our ears to hear His gentle, quiet voice.
Don’t look for a short cut to spiritual intimacy. It doesn’t exist. Begin doing the hard work of cultivating a relationship with Jesus everyday, and watch Him begin to blow your mind as you become aware of His Spirit’s gentle voice speaking into your life.