Have you ever experienced the discouraging feeling of seeing “seasoned” Christians failing in their faith? It can be hard realizing that every Christian, even Christians who we look up to as role models, are not perfect. They can stumble just like everyone else. Growing is tough enough, and it becomes even tougher when our role models fail to live up to our expectations.
God used a tree in my backyard to show me that, despite what we see other people doing, we can continue our own personal growth. There is this tall tree in my backyard that has spots of green mold on it, and most of its branches are leaning down. However, on this old and decaying tree, new life is springing forth. One of the leaning branches has a branch growing on it that looks like a miniature tree. This branch is not leaning like the rest of the branches on the tree. On the contrary, it is growing straight up towards the sun like a new tree would. In fact, it may be an actual tree growing- if you are a tree expert, I would love to hear an explanation for this!
Anyway, this tree is living proof that we can continue to grow despite what is going on around us. Even when people fail us, we can choose to seek God for ourselves and stay on the straight and narrow path.
Similarly, we can grow even after we ourselves fail in our faith. Psalm 37:23-24 (NIV) tells us, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”
Do you have anything in your past you are ashamed of? Like the tree, the guilt of your past may make you feel like you are slumping. However, God promises us that we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Like the tree, we can “press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called [us] heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 NIV)