Choosing a green or a brown soul: would you like to grow spiritually this year?

One of my favorite authors, Charles Spurgeon, the English preacher and shepherd, reminds us we should set as our goal for every new year something direct: spiritual growth. He offers three ways to begin.

We are to grow downward.

This means growing in our connection with life, pushing our physical and emotional roots into the soil of every day life and people. This is to be more connected and less aloof, more engaged with those around us and less self-consumed. We are to grow downward in humility, and see ourselves honestly next to God’s perfection and glory. Spurgeon writes poetically, “seek to lay very low and know more of your own unworthiness and nothingness.” This is not self-condemnation, but clear self-measure–a recognition that the human mind, body, soul and heart need constant tending or they quickly go to weed. It is a call and a passion for the development of a hunger for more holiness and health this year.

What do I need to confess or admit? Where do I think too highly of myself? Where am I far more selfish than I would like to admit? Where do I need to grow downward? Lord, I am your beloved child; use the truth to set me free!


We are to grow upward.

This means finding space and time to reach for the Heavens, and to seek the Lord each day. Spurgeon writes about this skyward stretching:

“having nearer approaches to God in prayer and more intimate fellowship with Jesus. May the Holy Spirit enable you to ‘grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior.’ He who does not long to know more of Christ, knows nothing of him yet.”
Intimacy, at any level, requires both time and focus. There are no exceptions. Where can I add a few minutes to focus on God? Where will I seek the Lord with intention? What little things can I change NOW to grow?


We are to grow more free.

Humans tend to be a people of memory, and we are shaped by our pasts experiences even though we may not remember the past correctly. People tend to skew our memories toward extremes: the bad was much worse, the good was much better. A new year is a time to shed the old reptilian membranes, and let the pink new skin of life breath. A new start is a powerful thing–we don’t want to waste it. It is time to grow in freedom, and shed the constraints of memory. Spurgeon again: “Live close to the Cross, and search the mystery of his healing wounds, and you shall find freedom.”

What am I DONE with? What should I forget and move on? Where can deep forgiveness scrub me clean? Jesus, help me get out of this place.


Worship leader and writer Fran Pratt has written a lovely Reflection to help us start new and free:

A Reflection for the End of the Year ( Fran Pratt, 2016)

God, with your help we have come here,
To the end of another year,
Some bearing smiles,
Others bearing scars.

We reflect upon your goodness now
Your constant Presence,
Your unfailing love,
Your kind regard.

You offer peace.
We accept.
You offer nearness.
We accept.
You offer a new life.
We accept.
You offer transformed hearts.
We accept.

Heal us where we are wounded.
Sort us where we are confused.
Sweeten us where we are bitter.
Open us where we are shut-down.

For all the ways you’ve revolutionized our hearts and minds this year
We give thanks.
For the improvements to our character,
We give thanks.
For challenges tackled and trials endured,
We give thanks.
For disappointments that have re-oriented us,
We give thanks.
For pain that has disciplined us,
We give thanks.
For love that has soothed us,
We give thanks.
For the light of Christ, whose life has illumined the path of peace,
We give thanks.


One comment

  1. Ooooo this fits into what I see God giving me for this Friday, thank you.

    I think you should send it to the Wilbourn’s and the Bakers! T. W’s will more likely read it if you send the link in a text, ask Mimi for help. 🙂

    Don’t forget to call me


    Sent from my iPad


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