Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Growing Up - Baby Steps

They say that big jobs are made much easier by taking ‘baby steps.’ Rather than trying to do the whole thing at one time, doing a little at a time is supposed to make a difficult job easier.
But sometimes that just means spreading out the pain.
We recently took a very painful ‘baby step.’ One in a long line of painful steps.
Let me explain.
The primary purpose of being a parent is to prepare our children for life without us. There are lots of other ways to phrase it, but that’s what it all boils down to – training them to leave and make it on their own.
So last Sunday, we deposited our nine-year old daughter at a Christian camp to spend the next week. Sure, she has spent the night at a friend’s house, spent the weekend at her grandparents’, etc. But to leave her for an entire week without us to tell her when to brush her teeth, when to go to bed, when to say her prayers – that was a first. It was another ‘baby step’ in her growing up (and away).
It hurt.
She’s learning to live without us. But, like I said before, that’s the plan - even if it does hurt.

While I love looking to God’s model of what fatherhood is all about, this facet of parenthood is the complete opposite of our spiritual growth. Because as we mature in our faith, as we become more spiritually mature, we should be becoming more dependent upon and more needy of our Father in heaven.
There are no Bible verses I can find telling us how we grow to be independent of God. Nothing tells us how we can rely more and more on ourselves and less and less on Him. There is no revelation of how God trains us up to live without Him.
It absolutely doesn’t work that way. (See John 15:1-11 about ‘abiding’ in Him.)
Quite the contrary, spiritual maturity means understanding how utterly dependent we really are on Him. The men I know who are further along on their walk than I am spend more time every day in prayer, they have a greater understanding of how desperately they need His love and grace, they are more thankful of His kindness and providential care, and they crave His presence more and more.

If you’re feeling strong, independent, ready to make it on your own, then you’re not getting closer to God and you’re not growing spiritually. Wouldn’t you rather start growing up?
Like our children taking ‘baby steps’ as they move away from us, we move closer to God by taking baby steps, too. It’s a process. It’s a journey. Sometimes we move by large bounds; often we take almost imperceptible steps. Sometimes we don’t realize we’ve taken any steps until confronted by Him.
In one of the C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales, Prince Caspian, an adolescent named Lucy encounters Aslan after not seeing him for a long time. (Aslan is the Christ-figure of the series.)
“Aslan, you’re bigger,” she says.
“That is because you’re older, little one,” answered he.
“Not because you are?”
“I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

What about you?
Are you growing away from your Father or are you growing up?
Is He becoming bigger to you? Are you needing Him more and more every day?

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