Don Goulding - Blog

Grow Up

giraffeLike newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. I Peter 2:2, 3

Large black hooves attached to spindly legs emerged from the giraffe’s birth canal. Soon a snout, then a long neck dangled out as the mama walked in circles. Three hours later, the calf tumbled unceremoniously onto the savannah grass. Within thirty minutes the baby was up and walking, an apricot and blonde patchwork masterpiece.

Eagles fly at twelve weeks of age, baby elephants follow their herd when they are three days old, and dolphins communicate with chirps, squeals, and clicks from birth. Comparatively, we humans have a long childhood. Some even suggest we are born too soon because of a mistake in evolution. We would have a higher survival rate, they say, if gestation were twenty-one months instead of nine. Try telling that to a pregnant mother. There is no mistake here, it is by design that we take longer to mature. God loves children. He delights in keeping us in the innocence of childhood for as long as possible. Nevertheless, we all need to eventually grow up.

I’m slower maturing spiritually than physically. I’m still underdeveloped and wobbly. It’s taking me a number of years to figure out that the glory we share with Christ in heaven will be proportional to what we allow him to do in us on earth. Therefore, maturing in our faith becomes as important as our birth into it. So I have only begun to use grace for something more than salvation and appropriate it into the process growing up.

Spiritual progress is the reverse of physical development. The older I get in Christ, the more dependent and childlike I should be in my faith. I am to return to the source of my life, suckle his nourishment, and hide in his protection thereby creating less dependence on me and the world and more on Jesus. That is a maturity I can strive for.

Prayer: Father above, grow me into union with you.


Ride Again

20160711 133636 2Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well … (Luke 6:27-29)

The one called Faithful and True rode a magnificent white stallion. I entered Christian ministry and a white horse was given to me also. Its name was love. 

I rode behind the King as he trampled injustice and comforted the oppressed. Joy awoke in my heart.

Christian coworkers came alongside and I was thrilled at the camaraderie. I hailed and they returned greetings. Then one of the smiling riders knocked me to the ground.

What was that? He was a coworker on a white horse the same as mine. I nursed my aches and muttered.

Jesus drew up his steed and chuckled. Did that laugh mean this was some kind of game?

I remounted and tried to stay near his great stallion. He was a perfect horseman and I soon fell behind.

More white-horsed riders came alongside, grinning. I grew to trust them. Once again, I was unhorsed and thrown to the mud.

I am slowly acquiring the secret rules of Christian ministry. To some, it’s a sort of game to knock others down.

To Jesus, ministry is no game at all but it does have rules. 

Rule number one—riding close to Jesus is a primary objective. It yields great spoils in eternity.

Rule number two—Unhorsing another rider disqualifies rewards.

Rule number three—The greatest of all prizes goes to those who are knocked down, then forgive, remount and ride again.


Prayer: Conquering Savior, help me forgive and love again.


Healing Mud

shapeimage 3… he spat on the ground and made some mud with the saliva. He smeared the mud on the blind man’s eyes and said to him, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated “sent”). So the blind man went away and washed, and came back seeing. (John 9:6, 7)

“Do you believe Jesus loves you?”

My question burst a paper-thin dam holding back the tears of a young Chinese mother. Her unrestrained streams marred a beautiful face. As my trusted interpreter hugged the despairing girl, a horrid story of spousal unfaithfulness came out between sobs.

I recognized the weeping that comes when a counselee draws close to buried grief. Tears over buried sorrow are tears of death. We grieve the expiration of a part of us that will never be seen or heard from again. In the case of the Chinese mother, she mourned the death of her love, trust, and family unity. All that was killed off by a cheating husband.

After a part of our soul dies, resurrection of peace is attainable. But first we need to lament, grieve deeply into the arms of Jesus. Let the wails explode and allow the tears to run. Our emotion comes because we are created in the image of a feeling God.

Life has no sorrow that Jesus can’t heal. We don’t have to endure our earthly sojourn with heart wounds. Ask him to make mud with spittle and apply it to the injury. He mixes his intimate humanity with the soil of our shared pain. It sticks to the heartache, forms a scab, then creates miraculous scar tissue. We still have the mark but sting disappears.

Healing never comes if I hide my injuries and pretend they don’t hurt. I must expose my wound and let the mud of Jesus do its work. Death, tears, mud, resurrection—it only works in that order.

For two more years, the Chinese mother prayed and took comfort from Jesus. Then the errant husband repented, received Christ’s forgiveness, and gave testimony of his conversion in an underground church meeting. It was a happy resurrection ending, but only after death, tears, and healing mud.

Prayer: Mighty Redeemer, apply your healing mud to my wounds.


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