Our oldest son, Hayden, and I were out in the yard a few months ago. I was checking things off my project list while he accompanied me. Although his presence sometimes slows my progress, it’s well worth it. These are some of my favorite bonding moments with him. He’s so content to be out “working” with daddy, and I’m proud to have him by my side.
The back of our property runs up to a neighbor’s fence. It’s a tall fence that provides complete privacy to their property, including their pool. They don’t use the pool often, and we could barely see them even if they did. That is, of course, until this particular spring day. With the arrival of warm weather, our neighbors had opened their pool. I could hear their kids laughing and splashing, but I wasn’t sure Hayden had put it all together. (It’s worth noting that Hayden loves to swim.)
Then this happened:
“Hey, neighbor!” shouted one of their daughters. Both Hayden and I turned to see the sweet little girl’s head pop over the fence as she waved. This had never happened before, and Hayden seemed a bit perplexed.
“What is she doing, Daddy?” he asked me.
“She’s on the top of her slide,” I explained.
“They have a slide?” he asked.
“Yep. It goes into their pool.”
“They have a pool?” he questioned.
“Yes, they do.”
“Wow! That’s cool!” he screamed wildly.
His excitement was contagious. He couldn’t get over how something so wonderful had always been so close to him without his ever knowing. Until he saw his neighbor, Hayden never knew there was a pool on the other side of the fence. But once he saw her, a whole new world of possibilities opened up. I couldn’t help but wonder, What else do I need to help him discover? And for that matter, what “fences” in my life block God’s work and wisdom, simply because I’ve never thought to look over them? What does God want to show me or teach me that I’m simply missing?
When moments like that happen—when we get a glimpse of what’s on the other side of the fence—we grow. We walk away with greater understanding of our world and our role in it.
Growth is often similar to Hayden’s experience, isn’t it? What we can control works together with what we can’t, which produces growth. Hayden wasn’t responsible for our neighbors opening their pool that day or for the little girl talking to him from the top of her slide. He did, however, ask the questions that helped him discover a truth he didn’t previously know.
Think about our physical growth. We can control eating our vegetables, drinking our milk, and taking our vitamins. But we can’t control how the body processes those things to stimulate bone and muscle expansion. In our gardens, we can till the dirt, plant the seeds, and water the soil. But we can’t control the amount of sunlight or oxygen needed to bring our hard work to fruition.
As Christ-followers, spiritual growth resembles this illustration. Many things in our lives are out of our control. God creates circumstances in which we can learn about who He is and develop who we are. On the other hand, He gives us a sense of initiative to seek Him. We experience spiritual growth when we use our own ability to chase after a God who gives us the desire and opportunity to do so.
And, just like Hayden, I believe we all have lots of growing left to do.
Want to learn more about what it means to follow Christ? Follow Me: Learning About Faith, Obedience, and Being Made Holy by Jason Hayes dives into topics like change, fear, hope, and growth. Click here for more info.