By Tacy Ashby
Senior Vice President, Strategic Educational Alliances
“We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your life will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will GROW as you learn to know God better and better.” (Colossians 1:9-10)
March, April and May bring about several birthday celebrations in my family, from the very young to the old. My birthday happens to be amongst those birthdays, and I always enjoy observing how we all respond to the passing of one year to the next, each with our different perspectives of the passing of seasons and time, living and life.
The little ones in the family – my grandchildren – usually talk about growing up. They are excited about the new ventures they will be facing, whether it be riding their new birthday bicycles, playing a new team sport or getting extra privileges such as going to friends’ houses as a result of their new age. They also talk about being able to ride on certain rides at amusement parks because of their newfound height in the upcoming year.
As they get older, they will be talking about being able to drive, going off to college, getting a job, getting married, having children and growing up into the responsibility of being an adult. Rather ironically and with a bit of humor, when the youngsters speak of growing up, I consider what occurs on the other end of the age spectrum – as I tend to be growing downward and growing out!
The parents of the little ones in our family – my children – tend to focus on a different phrase as their birthdays are being celebrated. They speak of growing older. They have enjoyed the days of their youth, and as responsibilities have become reality in their extremely busy lives, they are beginning to feel the effects of an older and more challenged lifestyle with children and increased responsibilities. Although they immensely enjoy their families and jobs, they don’t necessarily have the freedom that they once had. Their physical condition is no longer “at the peak of its game,” and the realities of certain unrealized dreams are beginning to be evidenced. Once again I am reminded of how this phrase applies to me when my husband gently reminds me that “growing older is better than the alternative.”
Growing in Him
After years of living the Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 seasons of my life’s journey, I have decided to choose a new perspective on the line of demarcation that marks my birthday from year to year – that marks the passing of time, in general. I am certainly no longer growing up nor have I chosen to say that I am growing older. Rather, the desire of my heart from year to year is to note that I am growing.
As seasons, years and birthdays come and go, as I traverse the hills and valleys of the path and plan that the Lord has designed for my life, my greatest desire is to be growing in Him.
Spiritual growth is like all other kinds of growth – it starts small; it takes one day at a time; it is a journey; it involves discipline and patience; it is comprised of hills and valleys – highs and lows; it is best nourished with the counsel of others; and it is made stronger in life’s experiences as we are drawn closer to Him. Each day is a building block in committing to growing in Him. In this way, from year to year, we may look back and know that we have become more like Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 11:1).
As I, then, reflect on how to best describe the passing of time from year to year and actually contemplate the very best birthday gift, it is most significantly growing in Him.
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