Knee High by the 4th of July
On the 4th of July, Lori and I took Kennedy for a walk “around the block.” It’s a long block. A little over a mile. And it takes us past the corn fields that are on Partridge Ave.
I commented to Lori that the corn was definitely “knee high at the 4th of July.” And Lori (who actually grew up on a farm and knows things that a simple city-dweller like me wouldn’t know) said “yeah…but if it’s only knee high by the 4th of July, it’s actually pretty far behind. It should really be taller by now. ”
With a cold spring and the long stretch with no rain, the corn was definitely behind.
Fast-forward 2 weeks and about 3 major rain storms and a lot of sunshine and we were taking the same walk.
The corn now was almost shoulder height.
I told Lori that I couldn’t believe the difference. And she said that “it’s amazing what a little sun and rain will do.”
And this reminded me: While growth may be incremental, it doesn’t always happen on a predictable curve. Growth happens when the conditions are right, and when all the elements (soil, water, sun) are present in the right proportions.
The same is true of our faith.
We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. Therefore we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.2 Thessalonians 1:3-4
Sometimes when I talk with people about how we grow in our faith, I see a weary and almost guilty look in their eyes. As if they are hearing me say “so why aren’t you growing in your faith?”
Our faith is always growing. Always. That is the work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing we can do will cause or prevent that. And the way our faith grows is different for each of us. Sometimes very different.
Know these 3 things:
- Like the corn, we have elements that lead to our growth. And all we do is put ourselves in the vicinity of the right elements. Worship, prayer, scripture, community, service…and a few other things. We place ourselves in the midst of these things and the Holy Spirit goes to work.
- Don’t feel guilty if the way you are growing doesn’t meet your expectations, or doesn’t look like it does for the person down the street, or the person who posts a lot, or the person sitting two pews up in worship. Your faith is your own. It is the expression of your relationship with God. No one else’s. Nudge it forward…always…but don’t guilt yourself if it doesn’t look like what you think it should look like.
- Trust. Trust that God is at work within you whether you sense it or not. Because it is a promise that God makes. There are not faith “metrics” or “markers” to measure against (which is one of the things that makes it complicated). There is no way of saying that your faith should be “________ by the ___________.” it doesn’t work that way. And to try and measure our faith is our attempt at wrestling control away from God and back to us. Let go of that. Trust.
Your faith is growing. Whether you know it or not. It is the work of God. Open yourself to the possibilities and to the work of the Spirit within. Immerse yourself in those things that promote growth and let go of your expectations.
Trust in the God who created you and loves you.