When we found our current church family twenty-five years ago, I had just sent my first child off to college. All of you moms out there who have reached this milestone understand how fragile I felt. Excited for him. Satisfied that he was ready to fly from the nest. Devastated that he would be living five hundred miles from home. Bereft.
Think about the standard progression of a child’s growth on earth.
Babies need constant care.
Parents give it.
Toddlers become a little more independent.
Parents encourage them.
Older children take on responsibilities.
Parents train them, so the children can eventually be wise parents themselves.
Yet, even as adults,
we will turn to our parents for advice and comfort.
I often depended on my parents’ wisdom and experience to help me as I faced new situations. In turn, my grown sons still call me on occasion with problems. I’ve been their “Dear Abby” regarding broken romances as well as wanting my input on the girls they believed they would marry. They need reassurances that they’re on the right track in the direction they’ve chosen for a career.
There’s a similar progression of growth in spirit.
God is our parent and mentor. New Christians rest in His arms.
He takes care of us minute by minute.
We grow a little, and He holds our hands as we wobble-walk through life.
After lots of stumbles and scraped knees, we gain more balance on our journey.
Even as “mature” Christians, we will fail, or circumstances will crush us. We constantly need His guidance.
And He is still there for us.
When do we finally make it to full maturity?
Back in 1996, as I built friendships in my new congregation, I was drawn to one older woman like a moth to a flame—except her fire was the Light of Christ. “Celia” (not her real name) brought eternal life to all who would listen to the wisdom gained from fifty years of walking with the Lord.
I want to be just like her when I grow up, I thought. I want to be wise and good. I want to radiate joy and serenity and be the face of Jesus.
If we were to look at a spiritual timeline of infancy, child, teen, and adult, I might have been considered early high school in spiritual years when I met Celia. No longer a baby Christian, I’d studied the Word for a while, so I was old enough to have learned more than the basics. But I still lacked maturity.
We became good friends. I told her I wanted to emulate her because she was so close to God.
“Oh, no,” she responded. “I’m not very good at all. I’ve loved the Lord for years and years, and still…I have so much farther to go.”
I didn’t believe her, thought she was being too modest. Later, I realized she was right.
Celia never stopped calling on Jesus for guidance several times a day, a constant role model to prove that we never make it to full maturity. She moved on to heaven not long ago at the age of ninety-five.
Her position as leader of our ladies prayer group passed to me.
“You’re the right person for the job,” they told me. “You know the Word. You’re a good teacher. And you have a peacefulness about you.”
Is that what they see?
While I’ve matured in my walk with the Lord for the last twenty years, I also know my weaknesses, my anxieties, my selfishness. I need Him more than ever.
I echo my friend’s words from years ago.
“I’ve loved the Lord for years and years, and still…I have so much farther to go.”
credit to Roy Luck for photo of boy washing dishes.