Since — finally and miraculously — having a baby in June 2016, I now realize just how much being a spiritual baby is like being an actual baby. (When I say “spiritual baby,” I mean someone who is just beginning to understand Jesus Christ and what it means to follow Him.) There are some interesting parallels.
My 1.5-year-old son, Henry, is a totally normal kid, but, like all toddlers, he’s needy. He can’t get food out of the fridge and prepare it for himself. He can’t decide what he’s going to wear in the morning. He can’t clip his own nails.
Right now, Henry needs my husband and me to give him a helping hand in almost every aspect of life. And we’d never dream of not taking care of him. (It’s our joy.)
Spiritual babies are equally time-consuming. When I was young in the Lord, I was time-consuming, too. My parents and other mature saints invested hours upon hours into answering my questions and preparing new members’ classes, seminars, special events, and camps geared primarily to spiritual babies like me.
After I got baptized, I remained babyish for quite a while, relying on others to guide me in paths of righteousness rather than going to the Lord as my primary source, waiting till Sundays to do my growing and developing rather than taking time to read and pray during the week.
But there came a time when I needed to start taking responsibility for my own spiritual life.
If I’m still spoon-feeding Henry when he’s 5 years old, for example, there’s something wrong. If he turns 10 and isn’t toilet trained, then shame on me. You agree, right?
What if, five years after baptism, I’m still asking my ministry to spoon-feed me scripture without trying to read it on my own? What if, after 10 years, my spiritual digestive system can only tolerate the “milk of the word” (1 Pe. 2:2) rather than the meat (1 Cor. 3:2, Heb. 5:12)?
It’s easy to remain “babied” spiritually. One of the primary ways that I baby myself is that I’ll slack off in basic Christian disciplines — reading, praying, fasting — during the week, thinking, “I’ll get fed on Sunday.”
Well, as any mom will tell you, when her kids are very young, even Sunday is taken away, so to speak. Right now, I sit through pretty much all of every Sunday meeting with Henry in the pew with me. But even though my physical body is present, my brain isn’t. If you ask me what the message was about or who asked for prayer, I probably can’t tell you. That’s because a busy toddler needs me. Only natural. This is a short-lived phase, and, sooner than I think, I’ll be able to fully concentrate in church again.
But I’ve come to realize that — now more than ever — I need to step up and take responsibility for my own spiritual welfare. If I don’t water my spiritual garden during the week, then I can’t rely on Sunday-morning showers of blessings to get me through.
A baby’s physical body grows when he gets proper nourishment. If I decide to neglect my spiritual nourishment — even just till Henry grows up a little more — I’ll find myself withered and dry. And I don’t want that to happen.
So, in 2017, I’m going to focus on carving out the necessary time for my spiritual well-being during the week. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do this, but I’m sure it’ll involve some sort of routine or reading plan. As I go through the process, I’m going to share my insights with you.
Here’s to spiritual growth in the New Year!
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.