Spiritual Phototropism

I introduced the idea of “spiritual phototropism” on December 21, but I’d love to spend more time with you on this subject.

Tropism is the turning or bending (typically by growth instead of movement) of an organism in response to external stimuli.

When it refers to plants turning toward the nourishment of the sun, is called phototropism.

Heroes of faith in the Bible are great examples of spiritual phototropism. I didn’t read this somewhere, it’s just the picture that came to my head as I read Hebrews 12.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith.”

Hebrews 12:1-2, NLT

Plant cells in darkness expand or grow faster than cells in light, so the stems grow unevenly, bending toward the small cells on the light side of the plan–phototropism. They turn their faces to follow the sun.

Have you noticed how our faith grows in dark times? “Foxhole Christians” turned to faith during great adversity when their only hope was God. But it’s true for all of us when w are down in the muck: we cry out for help and turn our faces to the only source of light—the all-powerful God of miracles. Spiritual phototropism.

“And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

Romans 8:26-28, NLT

God steps into the awful circumstances we get mired in and brings about unexpected good. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to leave interacting with God for the foxholes of our lives. But if you want to be someone who reflects God’s light every day, you need to make a strong relationship with him a priority in your life. God wants your prime time, not your spare time.

“Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”

Matthew 7:13-14, The Message

How do you pursue God? What did you do in your teen years when you had your eye on someone you were interested in developing a relationship with? You showed up in places he frequented. You took an interest in things she was interested in. You watched for him as you walked to class and acknowledged his presence. You made time for conversation and showed interest in what she had to say. You stretched yourself to do things that were outside your comfort zone just to be near him. You learned about things that you had never given a thought to before so that you would have a basis for conversation. You cultivated friendships with her friends.

If we want a relationship with God, we need to do all the same things. Not just when the bottom falls out of our lives, and we’re flat on our faces in the mud at the bottom of the foxhole as shells are landing all around. But every day.

God has promised His personal presence in your life. It’s your move.

Think about it.

  • In far northern climates, people live in the dark or twilight for up to six months of the year. This can affect behavior and mental wellness, a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Connections between human mood, energy levels, and the seasons are well documented, even in healthy individuals. It has been estimated that 1.5-9% of adults in the US experience SAD. Although there are underlying causes, a lack of sunlight is a trigger for SAD.
    • A lack of sunlight can trigger bouts of SAD; and light therapy is an accepted and successful form of treatment. Is there a correlation in our spiritual lives?
    • What does the world offer us in preparation for bad times? (insurance, stockpiles, emergency kits, etc.)
    • What does God tell us to do to prepare for periods of darkness in our lives?
    • Circumstances happen. Does our mood and wellbeing depend on how things are going all around us? What responsibility do we have, if any, for our feelings and attitudes?
  • Read the first and second commandments in Exodus 20:2-6.
    • What competes for attention in your life?
    • Where does God fit in?
    • Plot a course of action to deepen your relationship with your heavenly father in the next week, using your teen years to inspire you to think creatively. Share some ideas.
  • Think of some Bible verses or stories that have been meaningful to you throughout your life.
    • Share one, and if applicable, a circumstance when a portion of scripture spoke strongly to you.
    • Do these verses shape your life, your beliefs, or your actions?

Pray with me.
Dear Lord, help my life to be guided by your greatest commandment: to love God, my neighbor, and myself. Help me to be eager to participate in what you are doing in and around me. Amen.

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