Thursday, April 12, 2018

Growing Pains

A few weeks ago, my 8-year old daughter was going through a growth spurt. I knew it was coming a few weeks prior because she did the typical pre-growth spurt gorge. She was eating everything in the house! We couldn't send enough food for her school snack, and lunch, and after school snack. She would ask for a pre-dinner snack, eat dinner, and then eat more snacks...she was starving all the time! Then like a switch had been flipped, suddenly she had no appetite at all. But she was sleeping like crazy. She was hard to wake up in the morning (which is unusual for her), she was tired earlier in the evening. She was falling asleep in the car (VERY unusual for her!) and she was just generally cranky. She also had pains she'd never had before...pain behind her knees, in her elbows, muscle aches. It was a little over a week of this, and then she was back to normal. Back to normal, just an inch taller.

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense.
 Romans 1:20 (AMP)

I love this verse in Romans. It's the primary reason that I love nature study so much. When you study a creation, whether it be a piece of music, a painting, sculpture, or a literary work, you understand, at least a little bit, about the creator. And when we study Creation, we learn about our Creator, his invisible attributes, his eternal power, and divine nature. We learn about God's character through what he created. I was thinking about my daughter's growth spurt the other day, and this verse suddenly came flooding back to my mind. What does her growth spurt reveal about the way God works in us? 

I mentioned here that I spoke at my church in February. I also spoke at a women's retreat a few weeks after that. So the time from December to March was spent preparing for these two opportunities that God dropped in my lap. I had an insatiable appetite for the Word of God; I felt like I was starving and couldn't get enough! I was getting up early, staying up late, waking up in the middle of the night, and reading Scripture. I was journaling like crazy, trying to process all that I was taking in. I was reading books about the topics God planted in my heart for these two events, and having deep conversations with people I love about what God was revealing to me. I did little else outside of that, besides all my normal wife/parent know, my family still had to eat, and needed clean clothing. ;)

But then after the events, a switch flipped. Suddenly, I was tired. Not physically so much, but I didn't want to take as much in. I was still reading, but I had started re-reading the same passages (not a bad thing!) And I was having some growing pains. There were some things I'd learned during that season that I needed to put into practice, and some of that process was (and has continued to be) a bit painful. A bit achy.

When a child goes through a growth spurt, it's not in the "eating everything in sight" part where they're growing. It's actually that few weeks after, when they're sleeping so much. That's when everything they have taken in actually becomes flesh. It is transformed from fat, protein, and nutrients, into muscle mass, and bone. It's in the painful, resting time when they actually grow.

And I have seen that play out in my own heart. It wasn't in that first few months of the year when I was growing. It's now, in the growing pains, in the resting season, when Christ actually becomes fleshed out in me. When I develop spiritual muscle, and my spiritual bones lengthen, and I actually "grow up into him who is the head." This is when Christ becomes incarnated in me, when it hurts, and it stretches, and the scriptures that I took in move from theological, theoretical words only, and become life-transforming practical action, when the life I live actually begins to look like Jesus himself.

If you find yourself in a season of growing pains, take a  moment to rest, and recognize that this is part of God's process. Thank God for allowing you to grow up in him, to mature in the faith and become more like Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. So, take heart...this season of pain doesn't last forever. And every day pursuing him is worth every bit of discomfort we experience along the way.


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