Do you ever feel like your walk with Christ is “three steps forward, two steps back?”

Relax, it’s normal.

The journey of discipleship is not a linear progression like the building of a tower.  It is a cyclical journey like the growth of a tree.  (Read more about towers and trees here.)

The process progresses through birth, growth, harvest, death and rebirth, growing larger and more far-reaching each time. Not only that, but all along the way, it multiplies.

The key to growth is twofold, though.

First, if you understand that it’s a cycle, then you can let yourself off the hook for not “being awesome” all the time.  That doesn’t mean giving up on holiness; it means forgiving yourself when you fail, “as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

Second, when you enter a season of “winter” or failure or pain, always go back to the Gospel, because that’s the source of life that will start you growing again!

The Gospel is never about what you can do, and always about what Christ has already done.  The Gospel is never about “making a good showing in the flesh [our own strength]” (Galatians 6:12).  It is always about “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

Next time you feel less-than-perfect, don’t run from it.  Accept it.  Embrace it.  Not so that you can stay there, but so that the love and forgiveness of Jesus will give you the seed and the strength to keep moving forward in Him.

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(See elso, Romans 2:4)