As the New Year approaches, resolutions will be flying around everywhere. There’s something about the turn of the calendar page that gives us hope. It’s strange. We believe because the year starts over, we will too.
Unfortunately, most of those resolutions will be lying in a ditch somewhere by March. Good intentions and a new digit at the end of the year can’t compensate for a drive to grow. Perhaps we need to be more like babies.
Children don’t have a choice, they grow. They gain weight and grow taller with little effort. Every time I see my grandchildren or the kids in church, I’m amazed at how quickly they catch up to my height, and most often, pass me. If only we could mature in Christ as easily. But 1 Peter 2:2 gives us a clue into the newborn’s success.
Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,1 Peter 2:2
Babies grow because they eat, they crave nourishment and make lots of noise until they get it. Ask any nurse, they’ll tell you; underfed children don’t get bigger. The growth we believed to be effortless comes through moms and dads providing bottles in the middle of the night and trying to get the right balance of vegetables and protein. They encourage their children to work muscles and give them an abundance of love and support.
If we invested even half as much time on our spiritual growth as a parent spends on a child’s physical growth, we’d be giants in no time. Unfortunately, at some point life creeps in. Jobs steal our time, and we allow the world to set our priorities. When someone invites us to trade Sunday worship for brunch with friends, instead of screaming like a baby about to miss their morning bottle, we give in without a fight. We read fiction rather than the Father’s letter. Sitcoms and video games run into our prayer time, and we wonder why the church becomes as burnt out as the rest of the population. Perhaps it’s a nutrition problem.
A few years ago I started something new. Rather than setting New Year’s resolutions and breaking them before my birthday, I use the week between Christmas and January first to make a mark on the spiritual wall and see how much I’ve grown.
Did your family have a doorframe marking each child’s growth? Mine didn’t, but we still had a growth goal. The fourth generation has now adopted it. We all strived to become taller than my mother, and so far, every person over the age of thirteen has passed the mark.
Similarly, we need notches on our spiritual wall. Some will be our own marks, points we reached in our faith. These marks allow us to see where we’ve come from. Other marks will be from our brothers and sisters. Like my family determines to someday be taller than Grandma Judy, we need to look at the marks set by others and try to match them, with the highest mark belonging to our Big Brother, Jesus.
On my spiritual wall, saints from my past have set some of those marks. My grandmother put one pretty high. Other marks have been left by the apostles. Paul set the bar I’m aiming for next. It’s important to remember we’re not striving to be like these humans. No, replicating Jesus has to be the ultimate goal, but the milestones these fellow travelers left can be good markers for our own life.
Over the next twelve months I want to share with you some of the thresholds I’ve crossed as well as ones I’m still itching to reach. I invite you to send me some of your most memorable growth points and tell me how you reached them. What spiritual diet did you use?
My hope is that at the end of 2021 both of us can look at the doorframe and see a new mark a little higher than the last. I want to feed myself and pass some of that nourishment on to you. I pray you’ll commit to grow with me.
All this I tested by wisdom and I said, “I am determined to be wise”— but this was beyond me.Ecclesiastes 7:3
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