8. Waking Up
Life in the spirit is something we wake up to. Some people say that when Jesus said, “You must be born again,” he meant, “You must pray a prayer.” But repeating some words to God is nothing like childbirth.
When you begin to see and understand how the spirit realm operates, and when you begin to change your life to line up with that reality instead of the physical reality around you, it’s painful. We respond to discomfort by seeking change. When we trust God to get out of that place of pain, he begins to wake us up to the life in the spirit.
It is a perplexing process. We have to first unlearn old habits before we can pick up new ones. The habits of shopping or listening to friends complain about their lives or plugging into media distract us. If we are to move from one kingdom to another, we must create space for it in our lives.
Childbirth is wrenching, bloody and painful. So it is when we shift our perspective from life in the realm of flesh and blood to the reality of life in the spirit. Our habits and thoughts must change through pain, and the change itself is painful.
9. Kingdom Dreaming
God dreams. He dreams of freedom for his children. He dreams about the widow and the orphan, the poor, the oppressed. He tells us that our lives are not about ourselves. We find our deepest fulfillment when we allow him to give us his dreams.
When that happens, it feels like a call. Maybe that’s when we feel God’s trust the most—when he gives us a dream he cares about and asks us to steward it.
10. Three-Year Process
I calculate that Jesus invested approximately 15,000 hours in his disciples (5,000 hours/year of constant modeling, teaching and debriefing). Then their spirits were seared by watching him die, and then they spent days waiting for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Who are we to do any less?
Most of my adult life, I’ve sought to find a way around the long road of commitment that Jesus’ pattern of relationship requires.
Jesus took three years to disciple his disciples, and they still looked like a mess in the end. Three years of intensive, personal, challenging life together was just barely enough to get them to a place where they were succeeding as much as they were failing.
Jesus’ best disciple, Peter, the rock upon which Jesus said he’d build his church, was like a spiritual toddler falling down as he learned to walk. There he is walking on water one minute and chopping off a soldier’s ear or denying Jesus multiple times the next minute.
So, there you go. Ten lessons in 25 years. If that feels like a lot, I hope you find consolation in the fact that it only took me a quarter of a century to get my arms around it. As you press into God, you’ll find that he wakes you up to his kingdom in ways that you never thought possible.