It’s that time of the summer when sports fans and the media shift their attention to the upcoming NFL season. July is always filled with predictions and lists, and right now NFL.com is doing an online series of articles called “Making the Leap.”

Their description reads: “We feature emerging players to keep an eye on in 2016. Whether rising from no-namer to quality starter or vaulting from standout to superstar, each of these individuals is poised to break through in the coming campaign.”

I enjoy reading about which players will make the leap next season because every year players surprise us or finally live up to the expectations of being a high draft pick. Jadeveon Clowney, former #1 overall pick from the Houston Texans, is one of the players NFL.com has spotlighted.

Going into his third season, they believe Clowney can become the dominant player he’s capable of being. It’s time for him to move from the “young guy figuring things out” to being the star player who takes his game to the next level. He’s no longer the new guy in the NFL, so his efforts and contributions are expected to improve.

When thinking about our faith journeys, we recognize there is a time when we are new in our faith and lack knowledge in many areas. We are the “young guy figuring things out” when we first begin to follow Jesus, and still have a lot to learn.

However, there comes a point in our walk with the Lord when we need to “make the leap” and get to the next level. There is an expectation that we will break through after diligently seeking God for a while, and develop a deeper understanding of His ways and character.

We are all on a different path, and our rate of maturing may not be as fast as some, but there should still be evidence of growth in our lives if we are truly following Jesus.

Hebrews 5:12-14 (NLT) provides a helpful illustration regarding spiritual maturity: You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s Word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong.”

In sports, there is a time when players who have grown and matured break through and become the leaders and examples for the players coming up behind them.

Similarly, we should be constantly learning, improving, knowing right from wrong, and preparing for God to use us to teach others. We are responsible for truly living out the knowledge we have learned through our growth in understanding God’s Word and work on the cross.

Today, let’s not settle for knowing a couple of verses or be okay with the status quo in our faith journey. Instead, let’s push forward…looking to make the leap to the next level. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I’m thankful You desire for me to get to the next level in my relationship with You, and give me ways to grow and mature. Help me to really break through and be used by You more, and have a deeper understanding of who You are and what it means to follow Jesus in a powerful way. In His name I pray, Amen.