Growing Up v. Growing Out

Today, we (Sun 7 from the Denver campus of AmeriCorps NCCC) started working with Houston Parks and Recreation, cleaning up some of the medians, spreading mulch and pruning small trees.  It was a fun day of hard work and team building.  At one point, I was pruning some of the small trees as one of the girls worked beside me.  I laugh at my team (well, most people here in the NCCC) because many of them are hippies and tree huggers. 

Side Note:  I love hippies and tree huggers, I am a hippie (to an extent) and I have nothing against tree huggers.  I just find them hilarious and I laugh at them (in love). 

As we were pruning, this girl turned to me, horrified that we were hurting the trees, and told me “I have to keep reminding myself that I am just keeping them from growing out and helping them to grow up.”

As she said this, I thought of how true this is for each and every one of us.  God provides room for us to grow.  Each and every one of us grows.  We go everywhere.  We try new things.  Take chances.  Take risks.  We learn.  We hurt.  We laugh and cry.  We live.  We love.   It is part of life. 

In our society, we are told to learn everything so that nothing will slow us down.  So, we go to school to get a well-rounded education.  We absorb everything there is.  We know tidbits of randomness, but we don’t actually know anything at all.  We know the surface, but we’ve never actually dived into anything.  We grow outwards.  We expand. 

We take the same view of our spiritual lives.  We try out everything.  Discipleship.  Leadership.  Speaking in tongues.  prophesying.  Praying.  Healing.  We take every single gift God has given to His people and we try to make it our own.  But we come to find out, we may know a little bit about everything there is, but we don’t know what the heck we are doing.  We never dive into the gifts that God is giving us.  We want everything else as well.  Instead of growing upwards, we are growing outwards. 

Just like the little trees that need to be pruned, sometimes we need to do the same things with our lives.  Sometimes we need to focus our energy in the things that God wants us to focus on, by cutting out things that distract our efforts. 

I’m not saying we should not grow, I’m saying we should focus our growth on the things that focus ourselves and our lives onto the will of God.  If God gave you the natural talent for healing, heal.  For prophesying, prophesy.  For music, create music.  For art, create art.  This should be your primary focus, everything else doesn’t really matter.  Unless God gives you specific instructions, prune your efforts into the things that he has gifted you with. 

God gave me art.  So when I had to choose between language and art, I knew what I needed to choose.  The same went for music, which I still enjoy and play.  I would do the same with art, if God started leading me somewhere else, be it the missions field, the ministry or leadership. 

We have got to be open, but we must be focused on what God has for us.  Where he is pruning us.  Where he is growing us. 

God Bless and PEACE