One of numerous vivid memories of my early childhood has spoken much to me of late. When I was about two and a half years old, I remember running toward the hall closet where my mother kept a pile of shoes readily accessible. Summertime was approaching; the weather was getting warmer, and I had a sudden impulse to get out my favorite sandals from the previous summer and put them on. They were white leather, and I was very excited at the thought of wearing them again. As I approached the closet to get them out of storage, my mother asked me what I was doing. I replied with delight, “I am getting my sandals!” To my chagrin, she responded with laughter that I couldn’t possibly wear them that summer, as my feet had grown, and the sandals would be too small for me. Decades later, I still remember that disappointment. What is odd, is that I do not remember whether my parents bought me new sandals or not (although they most likely did!). I simply remember the sadness of not being able to wear the ones I had worn before, the most comfortable and prettiest white sandals in the world, the sandals I loved best. Moreover, I didn’t really understand how my feet could be too big for the sandals that had fit me perfectly.
The process of growth continued to be a mystery to me. (“This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” Mark 4:26-27) When I was in junior high, I began to look forward to growing up, because I had begun to grasp that privileges would accompany maturity. Later, as a college student, I realized that simply growing older wasn’t always characterized by an increase in maturity level! People may age physically, but maturity is not guaranteed, for, unlike the physical aging process, gaining wisdom and maturity requires cooperation from the individual! I also noticed that I wasn’t always terribly eager to cooperate with the maturing process myself, as some of the responsibilities associated with growing up were not so pleasant!
As a young adult who appeared younger than my actual years, I could get by with a little immaturity now and then. However, I ultimately found that I needed to quit resisting the process and begin to cooperate with the “forward march” of time! Whether I liked it or not, I had real-life obligations and was not a child (or even a college student — an excuse for much!) anymore. Behaving in a manner that was NOT commensurate with my phase in life would be equivalent to cramming my toddler-sized feet into the baby’s sandals. My immaturity would be evident to all, no matter how insistent I was on remaining in the former phase of my development or how much I had enjoyed the previous season!
As Christians, I believe we are guilty of the same kind of resistance to the maturing processes God uses to shape us into His image. We love the season of childhood with our Daddy, where He caters to our every need and holds us tenderly by the hand. We love learning to know Him better and experiencing His power. We long to do great things for Jesus (kind of like playing the part of a superhero when we were children). We imagine that we are more spiritual than we actually are; the time is then ripe for God to test and hone us. When that process began full force in my life, I longed to return to that toddler phase and wear my spiritual little white baby sandals. They were so pretty on my feet, and they were perfectly comfortable. I didn’t ASK for bigger shoes — just for a little more attention, perhaps! Nonetheless, in the Body of Christ, we ultimately must repent of wanting to wear our old clothing that no longer fits us. We need God’s forgiveness for wanting to use His power without true maturity of character and accountability in relationship. Trials are definitely painful, but they allow His DNA in us to replicate exponentially, as we are compelled to abandon self-indulgence if we ever hope to survive the trial!
Father, help me to abandon the trappings of past seasons that I treasure and move on into the next phase of my journey with You! Don’t allow me to resist the tug of Your Spirit to see You work victory in the face of fresh challenges. Deliver me from the fear of the unknown! You are with me! I DO want You to transform me more and more into Your image! Daddy, help me to strap on the new sandals You have purchased for me and take up the weapons of truth You are putting into my hand, in Jesus’ Name!
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
” Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-54