As a newborn, Jeffrey is pretty blobby. He can’t see very well, he can’t hear very well. He sleeps a lot. He is basically helpless and needs to be taken care of in every way. He depends on someone to feed him and clothe him and change him and bathe him. But every day he will grow and develop and before you know it, he’ll be having his own children.
I suspect something similar happens to us spiritually. When we are spiritual newborns, the spiritual world is a blur to us, and we have to develop our spiritual sight and hearing. We need to be spoonfed. When we are toddlers, things become big and bold to us. We’re into primary colors and repetitive noise-making. We can walk but we fall alot. We are picky eaters.
Then as we mature, we become able to discern nuance. We appreciate a broader range of spiritual color and sound. We can run, we can swim, we can sit still and be quiet. We can enjoy a gourmet meal.
“We will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is Christ.” Ephesians 4:14-15
And how do we grow? Some of it happens as a matter of course. You drink your milk and eat your vegetables and your body develops. But there’s a level of growth that only comes from struggle and trial and error and moving out of our comfort zone. To learn to walk, we have to be willing to fall. To learn to read, we have to work at learning letters and their sounds. It isn’t always easy or pleasant or fun. But if we persevere we get the reward of independent movement and the joy of reading.
That’s why we can consider it “pure joy” when we face all sorts of trials. “…because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Or as they say, “no pain, no gain”.
“Other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown….the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:8, 15
And on we grow…