I read a book recently called "Carry on Warrior" by Glennon Doyle Melton in which she includes a quote by Anais Nin that says, "And the day came when the risk to remain tight as a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."
My own heart is so hopeful, hopeful that those whom I shepherd will decide to blossom. God has called the church I lead to climb a spiritual mountain. What that looks like for each one of us will be different, but it is a direction to GROW deeper in each of our relationships with OUR God. It is a call to help one another because we are all on this climb together, but not to be so concerned or consumed with the ways someone else needs to grow that we turn a blind eye to our own growth.
I've taken risks since becoming lead pastor a year ago; risks that Jesus clearly commanded me to take but that each time challenged his people to take steps of faith that led them into closer and more risky obedience to Christ. I have promised, because Christ has promised, that if they say "yes" to him that he will do whatever work is necessary through us to accomplish his plans.
I'm living proof of this fact. I was so afraid to blossom for so many years, decades really. Yet, Christ asked me for a "yes" one day to allow his work in my life to restore me into the beauty he saw. I said yes and he did the rest. Sometimes I think the hardest part of growing in our relationship with Christ is getting out of his way to let him work.
God told me almost exactly 9 years before I entered full time ministry that he wanted to use me in that capacity. I expected it to happen immediately, but I waited and waited and waited still. There were many times I would bump my head on what felt like a glass ceiling, yet still his promise burned on inside of me. I didn't stop hoping, even when I had to swallow down hard the tears of disappointment so many times. Yet, in retrospect, I see he was just helping the flower bud to open carefully and completely. I don't think the "blossom" I am becoming even existed completely in the bud I used to be. That bud was tight because I was scared and hurt and unsure of my capabilities. I now see that a good measure of what released that bud to blossom has been time and humility. Again, Glennon Doyle Melton says it very well, "I am confident because I believe I am a child of God. I am humble because I believe that everyone else is too."
The mountain climb is basically this: Eradicating from our lives anything that is more important than God. The amount of time it takes for each bud to blossom is dependent on many things. I do know, though, that as a child I would sometimes pick a rose and then try to peel back each petal, but the result was never a full blossom. Rather, it resulted in a broken flower and disappointment. We can't open our own bud or anyone else's. That's God's job through the power of his Holy Spirit.
The only thing he is asking of us now is to go deeper. Will we all be fully blossomed? No. Will we be more open and more fragrantly God's at the end of this intense growth process? Without a doubt, yes!
Do I become afraid and doubtful that God will let us down? NEVER! My heart remains hopeful, hopeful that those I lead will decide to let God help them to blossom.