Most parents have seen the growth chart the pediatrician uses to measure their children’s growth. Predicting where their child falls within the population in regards to height, weight, and… head circumference?
We watch as our kids grow from a 4 lb. 12 oz. little baby boy, into a 7-year-old little man, and soon to be a 16-year-old young man taking an interest in the ladies, and finally a man with a career and family of his own. We are so proud now, and we hope to be proud in the future!
We sit back and we watch our kids grow… understanding that who they are at 4 is not who they are at 7, 16…. And so on! They grow, they mature, and most importantly they learn from their experiences, mistakes, failures and successes. We aim to teach them all that we can, but in the end it’s their life that teaches them the most.
This is the essence of physical and personal growth, and yet most of us refer back to the culture of fast food and instant gratification when it comes to our spiritual life. Why do we see spiritual growth as something that happens differently than our physical growth?
We want instant purification, perfection, and salvation, instant prayers answered, and we want instant spiritual formation! Why are we comfortable with the slow physical growth of our children… pleased as long as we see progress, and yet when it comes to the spiritual formation of others including our kids we are not comfortable with slight progression we insist on instant gratification!
There are some short cuts to physical growth… Steroids and Human Growth Hormone. And what do we know about these artificial growth agents… they work! They work and produce muscles that could not be produced without the help of these agents! In the short-term they work wonders, but almost all research shows they cause damage in the long run. You have huge muscle gain you never dreamed possible… but what we don’t here about is that for most who try it and see its successes, their bodies break down faster, get hurt easier, and in the end the short-term gains are not worth all the damage that is done to the body. Athletes get addicted to these drugs because they are catapulted to the top of their game, and they crave the attention and the talk it produces. But when they fail to produce because the drugs are no longer their system, everyone forgets about them… even the fame and fortune is short-lived!
Could this be the same as our spiritual growth? Is growing spiritually too fast a bad thing? Can you even really grow too fast spiritually? Do those enormous gains end up turning people into judgmental Pharisees, because they forget so quickly who they were without Christ in their life? Can you get burned out spiritually? If someone appears to mature in Christ quickly, is it possible some of the growth is artificial, and assisted by some spiritual HGH? I don’t know the answer, I’m just thinking out loud here : )
But I beg you all to see that growing spiritually is a never-ending process, and there are NO shortcuts! You never arrive and there are no good spiritual steroids or SGH you can take. There is no get blessed quick scheme you should follow, and no book that gives you the 10 easy steps to spiritual wholeness should ever be read! Spiritual formation and maturity comes with time, time, and more time. It comes to those who embark on a journey of the never-ending process or being refined and reformed by Jesus. Martin Luther used the term “Semper Reformanda” – Latin for Always Reforming, because he understood that settling into something spiritual is always a bad thing, but letting God have complete control of your heart to reform where He sees fit, is the best place to settle! The spiritual formation process is a journey on a road we should never stop traveling. This is the posture we should take with our own lives, the people in our lives that come to know Christ, and most importantly the posture we should take with our children as we see and hear them taking an interest in having Jesus as a part of their life. Recently Myles was baptized and as we talked about what baptism means, I came up with something simple for him to repeat and remember. “Baptism is dying to our way, and raising to His way”. And that my friends is a never ending process. We are to die to ourselves, our desires, our way of living… and we are to rise up and seek the way of God, the way of Jesus, the Way to everlasting life! Proverbs says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death? (14:12) For those who take the quick fix drugs, it seems right… but in the end it will lead to their early death, and the same goes for our ways spiritually. We can try and take shortcuts but in the end they all lead to death, its the journey of never ending reformation that leads to life and life more abundantly… (John 10:10)
To all my friends, don’t chase after the spiritual HGH, instead accept that the spiritual formation process is a journey… we do what we can to position ourselves where God can do the necessary work, and at the pace he sees fit… and the rest will be history!