To grow means to develop. To develop means to go from one stage to the next stage in the growth process: from simple to complex.
We can look at our lives in terms of natural growth. We all start out as babies who, as we grow over the years, learn talk, walk, feed oursleves and all the rest of that developmental stuff.
We begin as selfish beings who only thing about ourselves and what we need to make it through the day. Hopefully over the years, we develop a heart for other people and their needs and we begin the process of learning to share.
I remember a time during my hippy days in San Francisco and Seattle in the late sixties, where I would buy a bag of assorted penny candy before going to a music festival or other gathering. I had discovered that giving things away not only gave me something to do but made people happy in the process. So, I would wander around and pass out candy to the people attending the events. Not only did this help me meet people and overcome my tendancy to hang by myself, but it gave me an identity within that group of people. It was what we now call a win-win situation.
One of the great lies of our generation is that we will reach a point where we have it all figured out. The farther along the path of life we travel, the more we begin to understand that we only understand in part. It is like the bible says when it talks about seeing life as in a darkened mirror…that we can only know things in part during this life time (1 Corinthians 13:12 (King James Version).
Back to growth. I don’t think that any of us fully embrace growth—anyway not in the sense that it becomes a welcome part of our lives. Growth is hard. It is like that other bible story about the potter forming the clay into a vessel that can be used. There is a lot of pressure invloved in becoming a cup or a bowl that will hold something valuable. And when there is a flaw in the design, it is back to the pug mill to be softened so that the clay can be used again.
Then there is the fire. In order to make gold and silver usable, the impurities must be burned off until the refiner can see his face in the pure metal.
The climate for growth has to be good as well. It is like the daffodil in the spring time as the ground begins to warm. Have you ever wondered what it must feel like to push your head through all that still cold but almost softened earth. Just to get to the sun where growth can really begin as photosynthesis takes over.
Take it from me, it is not often that we go from mountain top to moutain top without having to travel through the valley to get there.
One thing I have learned and that painfully as well. To really grow we must get out of the boxes we find ourselves in and allow ourselves to be planted in different soil. This story is true as I watch my wife transplant an Aloe plant that has grown much to big for its container. She gets a bigger container and fills it with dirt and pulls the plant to be transplanted out of its comfortable place, dirt still clinging to the roots, and places it in the new pot with soil that will allow it to grow bigger and flourish.
Another agricultural example of growth is found in that bible story about the gardener having to prune back the tree branches in order for it to bear more fruit. In real life this is accomplished by bad weather as well. Without a frost killing some of the buds on an apple tree, the tree will produce lots of little apples which are not worth a whole lot. When nature is in balance, some buds are left to produce good fruit—when it’s not, the harvest is hurt and the price of fruit goes way up.
I don’t remember who said that knowledge does not necessitate growth, but they were right. You can read all about it and think that you understand it, but when push comes to shove, it is only by giving yourself over to the growth process that anything really happens.
It is interesting that this is where I ended up today as I began the process of journaling. I wanted to talk about prophesy and church structure; about the divide that we have put between leaders and laity and the bigger space between what we have tradtionally done on Sunday and what happens on Monday.
But, I will leave that for another time. This is as far as I can ride today.