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Growing Pains

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I love babies!  I really do.

I have to tell you from this mother’s perspective babies are the cutest little things I’ve ever seen.  My favorite part is their little toes.  Wait, it’s their fuzzy heads.  No, it has to be their pudgy legs.  I can’t choose my favorite part!  I love the whole baby package!  I just know I’ll be that great grandmother one day restraining myself from rubbing the baby heads of complete strangers.  

As a blessed mommy of four little ones, I have enjoyed the daily discovery of watching my babies grow.  Their mental and physical development is truly a miracle.  Those first two years especially amaze me as their little bodies and personalities develop so quickly!

Along with our babies and all their cuteness, there comes a lot of work!  Babies depend completely on the nurturing care of their parents for their wellbeing and even their survival.  Parents clean them, feed them and care for them when they are sick.  In my rough estimation, if all my babies potty train at age 3… (One of them is giving me a run for my money right now!  We won’t mention any names.  Do we think potty training might be a form of torture?  Are we all going to be O.K.?  Wait…is that my mind over there across the room?  I knew I lost it somewhere!)  I’m sorry I digress.  As I was saying, we will have changed approximately 23,900 diapers during our family’s baby stages.  Though I love the baby stage, I may just throw a giant party when my babies can finally kiss their diapers goodbye! 

Feeding our babies is another one of the huge tasks we perform as we care for our precious ones.  They simply cannot do it themselves.  They can’t prepare food and they can’t feed themselves in the beginning.  Little by little they grow, and they begin to put the food I give them into their little chubby hand with high hopes it will reach their mouths.  It is sweet!  But, it can also be exhausting!  As a mommy, there are those days when you eat as fast as you can, because you barely have time to feed yourself!  While I pray every day God will help me not wish away any moment with my children, there is a sense of accomplishment when they can sit at the table and feed themselves.

Can you imagine how exhausting if this process of “feeding them” never came to a healthy end.  What if my 16-year-old child someday demanded that I feed her all of her meals!  Can you see me holding her spoon and playing the “airplane game” to try and get her to eat?  Are you kidding me?  Let’s just say that would be very short lived!  But, spiritually we can fall into this trap.  I like to think of it as “the FEED ME syndrome.”  Typically it reveals itself in the form of comments such as “I just need to be fed.”  Or, “I’m not really being fed in this environment; I’ll have to go elsewhere.”  Rather than an isolated incident, it becomes a consistent theme in our lives.  Either there’s just never enough food, or somehow it’s not making into our mouths.  While it’s hugely important to make sure we are in a church where God can grow us as we worship him in “spirit and in truth”, it is equally important to take a moment and examine what we really mean when we utter these words.

In John 4, Jesus had just finished ministering to an adulterous woman at a well. Pointing her to the Savior and healer of her soul…himself…this precious woman becomes convinced Jesus is the Messiah!  As they are finishing their conversation, the disciples (silently shocked by his behavior) offer Jesus some food.  And Jesus makes a point. “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work…I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:34-35, NIV). 

The disciples weren’t getting it yet, and sometimes neither do we.  Jesus was being fed alright.  He was receiving spiritual nourishment.  But Jesus knew where his food came from.  At this stage in Jesus’ development, his ultimate food wasn’t coming from his disciples’ sweet efforts to care for him.  His mother Mary was no longer responsible for feeding him.  While he loved his friends and their community, they were not the source of his food.  He did not refer to the local Bible study or the great teachings of the area’s well-known Rabbi.  Jesus declared that his food was to do.  To do the will of God his Father.  To embrace the purpose and reason he was even walking on the earth in the first place.  He was so close to God the Father that their mission was one and the same. “To seek and save the lost.” (See Luke 19:10.)

As a follower of Christ, someone somewhere has invested in you spiritually.  Someone told you the amazing news that Jesus saves you!  Someone, somewhere was on a mission to “do the will of him who sent me”.  As you experience your new birth into Christ’s family, God sends people to feed you and help you grow.  God is so sweet to clearly describe the natural growing process of a follower of Jesus.  Just like our physical bodies change and develop, God created our spiritual lives to do the same.  He tells us as new believers to be “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation” (1 Peter 2:2, NIV).  Did you see that?  We’re designed to grow up!  That is awesome to me!  So what’s the problem?  Don’t we all just naturally grow? 

“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” (Hebrews 5:12-14, NLT).

I was baptized on Easter Sunday when I was seven years old.  It was a precious moment.  But there came a time in my journey when I ran.  I ran far.  For several years, I ran and I ran far away from the God of my salvation.  Until one day, almost two decades ago, I was sitting in my college dorm room at the end of my rope and full of the pain resulting from my wrong choices.  I had been a baby for way too long.  As a result, things in my life were very stunted and unsightly.  I picked up my Bible out of pure desperation, and the God of the universe met me there.  Like a malnourished baby, I began to “drink the milk” of God’s word.  Pouring over his truths.  Talking to him about everything as I cried out in my pain.  Receiving the healing power of his Spirit moving in me.  Over the next few years, I ate up every word fed to me by great teachers God put in my path.  God began to grow me.  I began to change.  God loved me even while was still sinning against him.  And God helped me to love him back.  God gave me passion.  God began to free me and prepare me for the life he had for me!

We all need to be fed.  We all need fresh food every day.  So it is with our spiritual lives.  I love to watch my little toddler now learning to use her own spoon, and I imagine her one day as she prepares meals to feed her household!  The baby stage is sweet, but God calls us to grow.  Adolescence has its special place, but I’m pretty sure none of us want to stay there!  J  Maturity is a sign of health.  We mature as we get to know Christ better and better, and he grows us.  We respond to his love as he helps us to love him back!  Our lives begin to look more and more like his.  Our hearts begin to beat for his mission:  to seek and save the lost!

How long have you known Jesus?  What are you doing with what you know?  Friends, let’s pick up our forks together and run to our Great Chef!  Let’s feast together on his Holy Bible, and then let’s experience a life beyond our wildest dreams as we live out his design and calling on our lives!  Filled with the Holy Spirit, let our souls be nourished as we do the will of our Father.  God alone has the power to make things grow.  Will you cry out to God with me?

My amazing Lord God!  Yes, I do love you because you loved me first while I was very unlovely.  Please help me to run to you as the source of my food and to put your Word into the very practice of my life.  Only by your Spirit’s power can I even live.  Let me live a life growing stronger and more passionate in you every day!

Posted on January 11, 2012