I was clicking through pictures on our home computer the other day. The memories of the milestones of the last eight years came flooding back as I scrolled from picture to picture. The images contained in these files include Josh’s first days, David’s Cub Scout flag ceremony, Bekah’s theatrical debut, and Jonny’s twentieth birthday. There were pictures of the children playing in the snow and gathering around the tree at Christmas. There were vacation photos and candid moments that have been digitized and cataloged. Whether it is a box of old photographs, files on a laptop or an app on a smartphone, viewing pictures of loved ones enjoying life is a wonderful blessing.
As I looked at these pictures, I could, at the same time, see the little faces of my children and recognize the people they have become. In those digital images I could see the same expressions made eight years ago that I see today; sure, the faces were a bit rounder and the features were quite a bit smaller. It is remarkable to see, literally and figuratively, how much my children have matured. The kids have grown so much, and I have all the pictures to prove it!
“And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Luke 2:52
As a pastor, it would be great to have the ability to photograph someone’s spiritual development like we can physical development. Imagine if we could capture the milestones of character with the intention of looking back, at a later date, at our progress. We could remember when we took our first steps toward honor or honesty, or received a gift of compassion or calmness. What a blessing it would be to scroll through a few files on a computer and recognize how much we’ve grown in spiritual maturity and biblical wisdom.
Until some group of geniuses at some biotech startup can develop an instrument that can scan the soul, we need the church. The church is the place where we allow a chosen few to know us deep enough to notice the subtle and substantial changes in our temperament and offer solicited advice on how to keep up the good work of character development. The church is the place where we allow our lives to be measured by the objective standard of biblical truth surrounded by sympathetic strugglers who are also working on their scriptural integrity. The church is the place where we can take all of our first steps in a safe place.
Despite the fact that there was snow in the air last weekend around here, this is the season for growth. It is a good time to get out and get active. It is also a good time to invest in inner growth. It would be a good time to pick up a good book, write down your thoughts, sit in the sunshine in silence and go to church. Don’t let the flowers and the grass be the only thing that shows evidence of new life – cultivate the garden of your soul.