Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Quick growth isn't everyday life

I remember a time when my daughter Noelle was going through a slow time of physical growth. For a long time - it seemed like months and months - she would stand in front of me, and the top of her head was exactly as high as my belly button. We had a lot of fun joking around about that! But then before I knew it, time went by and one day she stood next to me and she was over an inch higher than my belly button! To me, this growth spurt was too sudden. Where'd my little girl go!

I've often talked of the growth process in the Christian life as "slow." Growing into maturity, as well as growing in maturity (the same difference between growing into an adult and growing as an adult) is by no means a fast process - and that's a good thing!

Of course, just as a child goes through various growth spurts on the way to adulthood, Christians also have their own growth spurts on their way to maturity (and again, in maturity as well). Those times are often fun and exciting, full of unexpected but welcomed revelations and sudden fulfillment of things we've been hoping and waiting for, as well as the lifting of the heavy weights of the illusions that we were living under that weren't really reality.

But yet isn't most of our growth slow? When we stand next to God, isn't it often months and months - and even longer much of the time - that we're staring straight into His belly button, wondering when we're ever going to grow that extra inch taller? Yes, we're impatient people! But God's never impatient. As I've grown in grace, I've shed my image of Him as someone who's in a hurry with us. I think we put the pressure of hurried growth on ourselves.

We remember some of the growth spurts that we've been through, with all of the awesome-ness that went along with it, and we wonder why it's not always like that. We think of how great it will be when we "finally" trust Him fully and absolutely with all that's in us, and we feel disappointed that we're not there now. We desperately want to grow into maturity - without realizing it can only come in a series of seasons, not instantaneously. We lack contentment in the Lord's work in us now - because it doesn't fit the illusion we've created!

Don't all little kids play "grown up" at some time or another. And don't all teenagers long for the "freedom" of adulthood. But what kid can truly live life as an adult? And as for teenagers - don't they really want the best of both worlds? They want to be adults but yet they want to remain childish. Again, adulthood - maturity - comes in God's well-planned and executed seasons. He's good with all that. :)

And as for the mature - when they're truly mature, isn't it that they realize that all they needed to be was a child?

I know you've got loads and loads of time to read my past posts... LOL... but just in case you're interested, here are a few related posts.

Microwave Christianity
Slow-cooking together
Slow cooker or Microwave?
What's the Hurry?
What's the rush?


  1. Joel,

    I remember when i used to preach that our maturity, depended on us...that what's taken some people say 5 years in their Christian walk could to you 1 year IF you just workws hard...I used myself as an example (within 2.5 years of Christainity i waas an Elder - cause i worked hard, died to myself often)...BUT NOW how all that has changed...we cant do anything to "grow", we believe He causes the growth - grace...or...we "work" and cause the "growth" - law...which never really lasts.... take a listen to Bertie Britz from Dynamic Love Ministries...http://www.dynamicministries.com/The%20Word%20Well.htm...very good!

  2. Joel,
    I loved your illustration of your daughter's growth spurts here. Indeed, (hee hee!) it certainly has seemed like I've stared at Papa's belly-button for long seasons of my life at times. I fully agree. I think we do put a lot of pressure on ourselves for faster spiritual growth. At least, I can certainly attest to that. I know that it comes from a deep, sincere desire to know Father and Son more and more.

    Yet, like you said, fortunately (and I give Papa full credit), He's been working in me to be more content and patient with the process. In fact, I can honestly say (although, of course, it's still a work-in-progress) I'm enjoying the journey as much as the the "spurts" that come within it. For me, I've learned it's all about living in the present moment, accepting where I am...knowing I'm not complete, yet trusting that Papa is working within me to get me to our Destination.

    Great post, Joel!

    ~Amy :)

  3. Joel,
    I don't think this post or the posts you linked here are in any way applicable for me personally. I have already attained the level maturity others can only dream about. If you need any kind of advice, how you can be matured like me, I am matured enough to teach you the tricks - pray for 1 hr three times a day, read 5 chapters of OT and 3 chapters of NT, memorize 10 verses everyday, talk to your pastor about joining the deacon team, blah blah.

    :) Just kidding.

    Good post!

  4. Craig,

    Yep, I used to think the same thing. It was up to me to grow and mature. It wouldn't happen unless I made great efforts to do all the 'spiritual disciplines.' Essentially it was forced growth. Now I rest, and I find that I grow naturally, at God's pace, not my own. Thanks for the link to Bernie Britz. I've bookmarked it and I'll check it out when I have time.


    Yes, there is SO MUCH pressure in the church today to grow, grow, grow, do, do, do. What I've learned is that growing comes much more naturally when it's a result of rest, and simply remaining "attached" to the Vine and letting His life flow through us, rather than trying to grow in order to somehow attain rest and intimacy. In so many ways I think many in the church have it backwards.


    You think you've attained a higher maturity level but you're really only 1% of the way there! Better keep working harder and harder and harder! LOL Hehehe!

  5. For the most part, I've given up worrying about how long it takes. It's so wonderful to just be able to relax and focus my attention on Jesus and my brothers and sisters without trying to make things happen.

    Thanks for this great encouraging post, Joel.

  6. Aida,

    Yes, you hit the nail on the head, and I think much of the church needs to hear what you said! Just relaxing, and putting our focus on Jesus and our brothers and sisters in Him - without trying to make things happen. I think that's really what a life of faith is about, whereas in the church we've made it all about getting things done.