Spiritual Maturity, The Choices We Make
My father was kind, compassionate, loving, and very generous. Unfortunately, he had a horrible addiction that cost him his life at a very early age.
When we think of an alcoholic, we think of someone drinking from the time he/she wakes in the morning until he/she falls asleep at night. The usual characteristic of an alcoholic is abusive physically and verbally. This individual is lazy and is unstable in his/her work ethics as well as morally.
The usual characteristic of an alcoholic did not describe my father. He had strong work ethics. I do not ever remember him staying home from work even when he had pneumonia. The respect he had for himself caused him to have even more for others. Our home, yard, clothes as well as our selves were always neat and clean. I could not even image my father wearing his pants where his underwear was showing and purposely buying jeans for himself or us that already had holes in them. His job was extremely demanding physically, so he tried to use his resources wisely.
Ninety nine point nine percent of the time my father was a mature adult caring and providing for his family, but that point one percent could turn our home into a turning twisting tornado in just a matter of seconds when he was overwhelmed by the pressures of life and turned to the liquor bottle to solve those problems.
As I have commented before in my earlier posts, I struggled and struggled with the different changes in my father. I wanted to understand his dysfunctional behavior in that point one percent times of uncontrollable outbursts of rage and anger. These outbursts were usually directed toward inanimate objects. He was not directing his rage and anger toward us but the fear of his rage caused enormous amounts of anxiety and uncertainty in our home.
My father did not accept Christ as his personal Savior until he and my mother were married. Since he was an adult before coming to Christ and his own childhood was painted with a huge dysfunctional environment, he had not had the opportunities to grow in a stable home with love and with the Word of Christ.
Even though he was an adult, his spiritual walk was that of a child. 1 John 2: 12-14 – tells us that each stage of life in the Christian pilgrimage builds upon the other.
As children learn about Christ, they grow in their ability to win battles with temptation. My father was still learning to fight his battle with how to deal with adult problems. His background said turn to the liquor bottle but his spirit was telling him to use other weapons, God’s weapons: prayer, hope, love, faith, God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit now living in my father.
Tragically on May 10, 1966, my father let his past overrule his present. He made a spiritual choice that not only changed his life forever but his families as well.
For many years I struggled and struggled with my father’s spiritual decision that tragic night. I wanted desperately to know for sure that my father was in heaven and I would see and spend eternity with him.
God has assured me through His Word again and again that my father is in heaven. Through that assurance, God was able to prepare me for my mother’s last journey as well. Through the tragic storms and the violent battles, God has shown me that it is important to grow in my own spiritual walk with Him.
We all start out as babies literally and spiritually. As our bodies mature so should our cognitive thinking as well as our spiritual wisdom and discernment. The Christian life is a process of becoming more and more like Christ.
Just as our physical bodies mature and we learn natural lessons, God chooses to help us grow gradually by teaching us one lesson at a time. He wants to work perseverance into us to understand that spiritual maturity and solutions to our problems are one step and one lesson at a time.