We put babies in the sweetest little stretch and grows. Stretch and grows allow a baby to grow inside of the outfits until they’re too big to fit inside it anymore. Even though there is stretch inside the fabric, eventually they have to size up. Eventually, another outfit suits their development better.
Imagine if a baby never grew enough to fit into a bigger size. Wouldn’t you be concerned as a parent?
What does it take for a baby to grow from one size to another? A lot of eating and drinking milk, a lot of trying new skills like lying on their tummy, lifting their head, rolling over, holding themselves up, learning how to move their limbs and coordinate crawling… learning, stretching, growing… and a lot of tumbling, falling, crying. A lot of confusion and trying to work things out along the way.
The older we get the more we realise that internally we’re on a never-ending stretch and grow cycle. Sometimes we wish it would stop but rationally we realise the importance of that cycle continuing.
Babies rely on a parent to help fit them properly. Babies don’t know they’re relying on parents, they just are. Parents need to know what stage of growth their babies are at and what size is suitable for them to wear.
As adults, often when it’s time for a size up, we don’t feel ready and we want to stay in the onesie that we’ve become comfortable in.
God is our parent and wants us to size up. He's keen to help us. There’s a period of learning and teaching that can be uncomfortable, but that growth period is essential for us if we are to grow into a bigger spiritual size.
I have a memory as a little girl being in a shoe store. As little girls do, I tried on some grown up lady’s shoes. I remember a green pair of heeled slip-on sandals with leaf shaped slings across the foot that I was delighted to see my foot ‘nearly’ fit. It was only the heel that was too big. I shuffled around, feeling so grown up and lady-like and felt thoroughly disgusted that nobody else could see how well it fit! I felt ready to wear that heel even if I was barely five. My mother knew I wasn’t ready for that heel but I was indignant that she could be so unfair. Couldn’t she see? Couldn’t she see?!!
The purpose of stretching and growing spiritually is so we are made mature and complete in our faith. We can’t rely on miracles and signs from God. The Israelites experienced miracles and signs every day when they were led through the desert but it wasn’t enough to solidify their faith. Imagine that.
After Job’s trial, he said, (paraphrasing) ‘before this trial I heard of you but now after having experienced what I’ve experienced I know you for myself'.
Every day as a single parent I’m tested in some way. Whether it’s circumstantial, material, or emotional. I can tend to think, ‘it wasn’t meant to be this way.’. I know this isn’t God’s design. I believe God has something more complete, but I’m not presuming to know what that’s going to look like. The stretch and grow of my own faith has taught me not to ask God for the picture that I see, but rather trust His complete picture that He knows is good for me.
Nestle into the Father's good heart for you to go where you haven’t gone before. Allow Him to teach you all that He wants to reveal to you. This is a sanctifying process and you’re not walking through it on your own. He's with you. He promises to lead you.
Deuteronomy 13:8 (NLT)
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Exodus 14:14 (KJV)
The Lord will fight for you and you shall hold your peace.
Don’t we just love to grizzle and complain, plead and labour before God, thinking that’s prayer? It isn’t. Prayer comes from a place of rest and trust. Prayer hands over, it doesn't hold on. Real prayer means that we come out of it with an assurance that relinquishes worry.
Psalm 23 says, He has prepared a table in the presence of your enemies. Recognise there may be other enemies present at your table that you’ve unintentionally invited, like fear or anger, resentment or insecurity – but they’re not supposed to be there. They’re not your real enemies. Ephesians 4:27 says not to give a foothold to the enemy. Recognize there may be enemies underneath your table who are trying to latch on to your ankles but God says you’re focusing on the wrong enemy. We’re not to worry or have anxiety.
What do we enjoy doing after we’ve eaten a good meal and we’re full? Don't we like a rest? God wants us to rest and acknowledge that He will provide what we need. Reach out your hand and receive, and be grateful. He gives His rod (protection) and staff (guidance) to comfort us.
Kick those enemies away and let God teach you how to engage where you need to engage and battle from a place of security.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (NLV)
Be strong and have strength of heart. Do not be afraid or shake with fear because of them. For the Lord your God is the One Who goes with you. He will be faithful to you. He will not leave you alone.”