As I think about people trying to get better, trying to grow in someway or another, what is brought to my mind is a rope.
I remember having two different kinds of ropes in gym class when I was in elementary school.
Rope #1: We had the rope with knots every step, so if you got tired or slipped, there was always another knot below you to support you. Additionally, you could rest every step if you were out of shape. This allowed people to even rest one knot from the top, or rest once they got to the very top and enjoy the view around them.
Rope #2: We also had a rope that didn't have any knots at all. This was the kind of rope that you would need to be really fit in order to climb. You would go up really fast, and be back on the ground because you couldn't take a break halfway up the rope or you would lose energy. Even if you did make it to the top, you would quickly be back on the ground.
Most people go through life struggling to maintain growth of any kind, they have a rope without any knots on it. They seem to do better during certain seasons, but when certain circumstances come, they don't have anywhere to place their feet and rest, any "knots". So what happens? They slide back down to the ground and go back to "square one" for a time. Back to the old habits, the old desires that kept them from growth in the first place.
What I am here to tell you is that there is a better rope. A rope that has knots that you can put your full weight on and even rest on as you take one step at a time towards growth in your life.
"Because of his (God's) glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires." (2 Peter 1:4)
You may say, wait a second! I'm not God! None of us are. But when we believe and put our trust in the first "knot", the first promise that Jesus died and rose again so we could escape the results of sin and our selfish desires; when we believe that promise and ask Jesus' to save us from sin and its various effects on our lives, we receive the Holy Spirit who is able to progress us towards God and away from what we are doing that we know is not progressing us towards what God wants for us.
God then continues to show us many promises, many "knots" we can rely on according to who He is and what He has done for us. After the first promise though, it's tempting to go back to the ground. In some ways, it's easier to ditch the goal of being more like Jesus, the perfect man. But why go back to ground after you've just begun? God always has another knot, another promise that we can step on in order to bring us closer to Him.
Maybe that next promise is the reality that when we walk in obedience to God's desire, his will for our lives, we can, Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them (your enemies), for the LORD your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you! (Deut 31:6, NET)
Now, there is one who is able to keep you from falling (Jude 1:24) and His promises can be relied upon. One knot at a time, through obedience to what God wants for us as shown in His Word, the Bible, and by the leading of His Spirit, we can progress towards a closer relationship with God and thus reflect Him better to this broken world as His light shines on us and we shine to the world around us through being closer to Him.
So what is the next knot, the next promise that God wants you to step onto? The promise of who He is or of what He has done for you?
Lord, thank you that you have established promises in Your Word telling us what You are like and how You work in line with your character for those who trust and are obedient to You. Show us the next knot that we can step on to be closer to You. Help us to be obedient to You before our selfish desires and we trust that You will use us as we progress towards You. In Jesus' name, Amen.