Wednesday, February 1, 2012
My, how you've grown!
"Quit standing on your toes! That's cheating!"
It's not uncommon to see growing children stand back to back, measuring to see who is taller. This is serious business! Yet, accuracy between kids is rare. Hands reaching to feel the tops of heads often seem to go up an invisible incline to achieve the desired advantage. Being the biggest is the BEST, after all.
We have a doorway full of pencil marks with names and dates. It's where our kids like to be measured. Tate is winning right now...even over his dad! Trey's goal in life is to pass up his older brother who is 6'3". Every so often, one of the kids pipes up and says, "Hey, measure me because I think I've grown again. Can you check?" Physical growth is easy to spot. Pants look high watered, sleeves get short, doorways seem to shrink, and believe it or not, ceilings can actually get fingerprints on them from boys practicing their basketball moves. My, how they've grown!
Growth is a natural desire. After giving my life to Jesus that night at camp, I knew I wanted to grow spiritually. I wanted to be mature enough that if someone ever wanted to ever throw me in a furnace I could say, "My God is able to save me, but even if he doesn't, I will still follow him!" I'd heard the stories of those who'd followed Jesus at all costs. I met Richard and Sabina Wrumbrandt one night while dad was still in seminary. I had read Richard's book, Tortured for Christ. He had lived years in a Romanian prison and still loved his God. More shocking to me than that was that he loved the men who had tortured him! His unshakable faith and immeasurable love was what I longed to have. He seemed a spiritual giant to me. I wrote a song that captured my new desire. It asked, "Do I love you enough God that I would die for you if it was ever asked of me?" I took my personal growth serious. I spent time getting to know Jesus in a personal way for the first time. I talked to him; studied my Bible; listened to believers around me...soaking it all up like a thirsty sponge. Growth was good!
At the age of 15, our son, Tate, seemed to grow half a foot practically overnight. People couldn't help but mention it every time they saw him. You can't hide major growth spurts. When I was 14, my growth was spiritual, but obvious. Our family's heavy involvement in church-life gave me ample opportunity to plug in and serve often. Soon, I was hearing words of encouragement from those around me. It was like I'd grown that "half a foot" overnight and people couldn't pass by without saying, "My, how you've grown." It was good to be encouraged, but somewhere along the way, my perception got skewed. Since I am a people-pleaser by nature, and had already struggled with a puffed up sense of knowledge years earlier, it made for an unhealthy kind of growth. All too quickly, I began to feel like maturity in Christ came from being a busy worker for him. In my head, the continual comments turned from encouragement to measurements of growth and maturity. I was eager to sow seeds in my life and grow, grow, grow! I just didn't realize yet that I'd allowed a seed of lies to begin to grow. A weed and flower look an awful lot alike when they are first springing up!
The reason I am sharing this part of the story is that I believe that it's a key point in my focus becoming blurred. I started out with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I wanted to love him, like Richard Wrumbrandt, so deeply that I would be willing to lay my life down for him. But, it wasn't long before I got distracted by all that I was doing for him. It's easy to do! Regardless of whether we are in junior high, mid-life, or retirement, we can loose the joy of our salvation and unintentionally turn into workaholics for Jesus. Work is much easier to measure than Love. Busyness can be placed on a scale that reports the numbers of hours involved in an activity. It's impossible to gauge Joy the same way.
Like kids on a playground, Christians tend to carry an invisible measuring stick, which we use to see if we, or others, are measuring up. It's dangerous. It makes our "biggness" the issue instead of the greatness of our God. I wanted to measure up. Standing on my toes slightly, I held my head high and tried to be as big as I could reach.