As a young child, I was always concerned with the fact that I had a lot in common with Zacchaeus. I was a short kid and really had a hard time dealing with it. As all of my friends grew, I seemed to stay closer to the ground. This was particularly true when my friends hit puberty and shot up, but I just had to look up at them. I was so concerned with this development that I would pester and beg my mother to take me to the doctor to see what was wrong with me. It took until I had graduated from high school be before I reached any true height. Now, I’m right at the average height for American males. Go figure.
While I was in this “crisis,” I never looked at the reality of my life. As my mother and a doctor or two said, “you will grow when you grow and if you don’t there really isn’t much that can be done.” I wanted the latest and greatest growth technology to be used to get me to a respectable height and I wanted it now.
There were two things that I wasn’t considering. The first aspect I didn’t consider is evident by the picture of my parents on their wedding day. A quick look will show that I am from a gene pool that has a deep and a shallow end when it comes to height. My father towers over my mother and it’s not hard to see that fact. Nevertheless, I didn’t bring that into consideration. I looked at my father and just took it for granted that I would be like him.
I also failed to take into account that growth comes in its own time. Like most of life, the development of the human body doesn’t stick to a strict schedule. When it was time for the growth hormones to kick in they would, and no worry would cause it to begin sooner.
In my experience, many of us forget to consider similar things when we talk about spiritual growth. Many of us know people who are spiritual giants. We identify folk
s who inspire us and we want to be like them. Its easy to forget that it took time and tutelage for them to reach this spiritual stature. Spiritual growth is akin to physical growth. We may have a desire to become more spiritual but without working to develop our spiritual discipline we won’t do so. How many of us are like a child who eats only candy and chicken nuggets. As is the case with our physical body, the development of our spiritual selves is influenced by what we feed it. Feeding the soul with meaningful and sustaining food is a critical aspect of our lives.
We also need to consider that our spirits are truly developing as God sees fit. Like most, I find that God often doesn’t work as fast I would like. Like my desire to grow fast as a child, I find myself thinking the same thing when it comes to spiritual growth. Why can’t God just kick in the spiritual growth hormones, so I can have a growth spurt. The reality of our lives is that they are not fully under our direction or desire. Spiritually we develop in a healthy and measured way under the providence of God. That means that the growth we have occurs in God’s time.
Finally, I think about that picture of my parents on their wedding day. They look like polar opposites. Yet, by looking at them you might get the wrong impressions. While my mother is short, (it’s a fact, not a secret) she is the larger personality in their relationship. I think sometimes we worry that if we don’t come across as spiritual giants, we aren’t. Some of the people that have meant the most to me in my spiritual development would not be those you would expect. They weren’t the dynamic preacher, or the great youth leader. I have found that those who speak simply and softly about their faith can have a great impact on my spiritual maturity.
This begs the question, “what are you feeding your soul?” Are you feasting on God’s Word or are you filling yourself with “spiritual candy?” It can be easy to lose heart when the spiritual development we want doesn’t seem to be happening fast enough. I hope that you will give yourself grace to grow at God’s pace. It took me a few more years to grow physically, but now I can boldly proclaim I’m average.