I get a weekly email from a parenting website that tells me about my daughter's development. It's interesting and usually exactly on-point with what we're dealing with (i.e. when I ask her if she'd like some water and she screams "NO. DON'T LIKE IT. WANT A COKE." in front of God and everybody - at the health food store when I'm trying to look like the organic good Mom who gives her child a healthy alternative instead of a sugary gonna-eat-her-stomach-lining coke. Busted). Every week I look forward to the parenting email because it tells me something about my 2 year old that makes me feel like she's...normal. It's normal that she is testing boundaries. It's normal that she spends "some" time every day in time out and that I spend "some" time every day in tears. It's normal that she wants to put on her own shoes but doesn't know which foot they go on or how to tie/buckle them when/if she gets them on...leading to the mother of all meltdowns. It's normal that she's not flexible. It's normal that she's a bit rigid.
This is the "normalizing" email I got today from the parenting site:
"You may have noticed that your 2-year-old isn't exactly the most flexible person in the world. Her little brain is trying to understand how the world works, and once she gets a concept down, she expects it to stay that way. Having things happen the same way every time reassures your preschooler and gives her a confidence boost ("I knew that would happen!"). That's why she likes to sit in a certain chair or goes bananas when her cracker breaks in two. "
Whew! Great, my toddler is normal. She wants things to stay the same. She expects things to stay the same. She expects things to happen the same way every time - it gives her confidence.
God poked fun at me as I read this. All I could think is that some days, okay, a lot of days, when it comes to my relationship with my Heavenly Father, I'm a normal two-year-old.
I want things to stay the same. It gives me confidence - uh, no. It gives me a sense of control. If things stay the same, if I'm not flexible, then I'm in control. My expectations never have to shift. I can just stay the same. But that's not what's best for me. If I never have to change, then I also never have to grow up. When I always know what to expect, I can rely on myself, my feelings, my responses - but God wants me to rely on Him. God wants me to grow up and stop being a baby. He wants it for all of us. It's not normal for a Jesus follower to stop growing or never grow from the beginning.
Paul gave a good tongue-lashing to the Corinthians when he said:
"...when I was with you I couldn’t talk to you as I would to spiritual people. I had to talk as though you belonged to this world or as though you were infants in Christ. 2 I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger. And you still aren’t ready, 3 for you are still controlled by your sinful nature. You are jealous of one another and quarrel with each other. Doesn’t that prove you are controlled by your sinful nature? Aren’t you living like people of the world?" 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 NLT
Jealousy. Fighting. Controlled by the sinful nature. Sounds like a two-year-old. Sounds like me some days.
Hebrews 5:11-13 NLT speaks about our spiritual growth (or lack thereof):
"11 There is much more we would like to say..., but it is difficult to explain, especially since you are spiritually dull and don’t seem to listen. 12 You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food. 13 For someone who lives on milk is still an infant and doesn’t know how to do what is right. 14 Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong."
Spiritually dull. Don't seem to listen. Again, sounds like a two-year-old and it sounds like me some days. Sounds like your kids, your marriage, your family. Sounds like mine, too.
It's time to grow up. We've got to move on from spiritual milk and on to solid food. Spiritual milk looks like this: a Sunday morning sermon. That's certainly not a diss of any Pastor's effort to teach God's Word. It's an indictment against you and me, the Christ followers. If our only spiritual food is coming from the Sunday morning sermon, then we are starving. Can you only eat one meal in seven days? I can't. I get weak if I don't eat by 9am and then again at 11am and then again at 2pm and then again at 6pm. I would be sick if I only ate one meal in a seven day period. Sick. Weak. Useless. Many of us are sick and weak and useless to God because we aren't ingesting His Word regularly. His Word and our normal don't match up.
We need to get healthy. We need to take in His Word so that we can be strong and ready and useful. Don't be two. We're too old to be two. We're too old to act like we're two. Growth happens a little bit every day. Grow up a little bit today. Read God's Word. Memorize a verse. Pray. Move on from spiritual milk and take in some solid food. Let's be mature. Let's stop being controlled by our sin.
Start with some mooshy green beans today. You'll be chewing a steak in no time. God wants us to grow. He loves you.
Start chewing solid food today and just KEEP GOING!