I Have A Father Who Respects Stages of Development
Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all. I Timothy 4:15
How well do you remember the stages of your life? Earliest memories usually come from toddlerhood. I remember my first doll, learning how to write cursive, learning how to jump on a pogo stick up and down the driveway, learning to play the piano, and learning how to leave home early.
We each grow up in graduated degrees from infancy to adulthood. The same is true in God’s family. There are kingdom principles that are difficult to grasp if the maturity level is absent. There is the milk of the Word and there is the meat of the Word. If you feed either to the wrong person, there will be indigestion. You can’t expect an infant to walk, or a two year old to cross the street safely. You can’t expect a kindergartner to solve a calculus problem and you don’t believe a teenager is competent to run a company. Expectations of a person must match their maturation level. So it is with the maturity level of God’s children. A fifty year old woman may look like she can handle the meat of the Word but because of her age as a new believer, she can’t yet. Try to speak to her of ‘testing by trial’ and you could bring on full blown panic. She must first start with a milk diet.
With a baby believer, God has to start at the beginning just as new parents spend the first year of their child’s life holding them, rocking them, and cooing to them. God always teaches us elementary precepts first. The first one is, “I love you and this is what My love is like.” There are no shortcuts here. It takes as long as it takes and that depends on the previous life experiences of the believer. If they have only known distorted love and abusive authority, this initial stage will take some time.
One more dynamic comes into play and I know it from experience. I was raised in a Christian home but was never given the time to experience God as a spiritual infant, toddler, then adolescent. I was thrown into graduate level courses, all head-stuff. For three decades, my Christianity was as dry as a philosophy class and I couldn’t figure out why God wasn’t more real to me. Then God allowed a 22 year wilderness to bring me to a place where I reached out for Him and asked Him to start over with my spiritual growth. “Do you really love me? I’m not sure.”
The spiritual desert was a time when God took me back to the basics. I learned how He loves me, what His voice sounds like deep in my Spirit, and how to let Him guide my steps through the truth of simple scriptures. I learned that such lessons are really the foundations of doctrine. When the heart of my Christianity finally plugged into my life-long Christian education, the result was a firestorm that has never fizzled. It is still growing and though I’ve grown up a lot in the kingdom, I ask God daily to help me retain a childlike spirit.
Thank you for starting over. You taught me how to be Your daughter. Amen
Originally published Tuesday, 12 March 2019.