Have you ever had “growing pains?” I grew very quickly from 13-17, and during those years, I often experienced growing pains. A growing pain is a sharp stabbing pain that can develop in just about any joint in your body, but normally occurs in the elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles. They range from slight (causing minor to moderate discomfort), to severe (intense discomfort which can prevent normal function). Now that I’m nearly finished growing, my growth rate has slowed down, and it has been several years since I last experienced a growing pain.
While growing pains are not any fun, they are good in a way, because they indicate that the body is maturing. If a child went through his adolescent years without experiencing any of these pains, two things would happen. One, mother and father would probably be a bit concerned. Secondly, the child would be a dwarf for the rest of his life. Thus it can be seen that while growing pains are not fun to go through, they are a necessary part of the normal child’s life.
There is a different kind of growing pain, this one detached somewhat from the physical realm. As a Christian, I believe that once you accept the Lord Jesus as your Saviour, you are saved once for all. Never again will you have to worry about your eternal destination; that is forever settled in Heaven. What should happen though is that your life should show some changes from when you came to know Christ. Now that you’re saved, you should begin to grow. As a growing Christian, there will be growing pains.
These growing pains come as you try to serve the Lord and do what He wills. Often, doing what the Lord wants you to do will mean giving up something that you treasure highly, something that you hold dear. When that time comes, though the growing process is unpleasant, it is necessary. If you never go through unpleasant or trying situations, you will never grow.
The connection to the physical world can be clearly seen. How does a child grow and learn? Often, children learn best from unpleasant experiences. A child who burnt his hand on a hot stove is likely to avoid touching it in the future. Why? Because he knows what will happen if his hand comes in contact with it. A child who has fallen down the stairs will probably exercise greater caution when going down the stairs henceforward. Why? Because he has experienced first-hand the pain that follows careless, precipitous navigation of those steps.
As the child grows, there comes a time when he begins to learn from others’ experiences. He watches what other people do, and sees the results of their decisions. Suddenly, one can see the gears starting to turn in his little head. His thought process might run something like this: I really want that cookie on the coffee table. Mommy just told me “No!” when I tried to grab it. But, Mommy is distracted. If I try to grab the cookie, Mommy may not notice, but if she does, I’ll get a swat on the hand, or maybe even a spanking. Soon, this observation/evaluation mechanism becomes second nature, until as a five- or six-year-old, it is almost second nature.
As the child continues to grow and mature, he adds another step to this cognitive process of reasoning. No longer does he think solely of himself in relation to the consequences of a given action. He begins to include his family members in his thought process. At this point, the child’s thought process might go something like this: I really want to go ride my bike in the street. However, Mom has told me that I’m not allowed to do that. If I go ride my bike in the street, Mom might not see me, and I might get away with it. Still, I know that Mom didn’t tell me not to ride in the street because she didn’t love me. I know that there are cars and big trucks going very fast on the road, and if I ride my bike in the street, I could get hit and be badly injured, or even killed. If I died, Mom and Dad would both be very sad. So, I’ve decided that as fun as it would be to ride my bike in the road, it’s not worth getting killed and breaking Mom and Dad’s hearts.
At this point, the child has reached a level of personal accountability that is very commendable. He does not just selfishly evaluate his actions and their consequences; instead, he has branched out to include others in his thinking.
In the same way, the Christian must go through the same growing process. As the Christian grows, he usually starts out by thinking only of his own personal walk. Thus, his decisions of what to do and what not to do revolve mainly around himself. However, as he grows and matures, he begins to include others, and their Christian walk, or his testimony to those who are unsaved, in his thinking and decision-making process. This is the place that each of us should strive to reach in our Christian life and walk.
When you first accepted Christ, it is very probable that you thought of your actions, decisions, and standards only in light of yourself. Now, the time has come to move beyond that.
Consider the following questions: If you have known Christ for any amount of time, have you begun to think of others when you make a decision? Have you thought about what effect if will have on other people? Or are you still just focused on yourself? It’s time to move on. It’s time to grow. Don’t look now, but….