When I was in the fifth grade, my mother got a call from my teacher who was upset that I was wearing makeup to school. “It’s inappropriate for a child of her age to wear makeup!” she said.
As a girl, I always wanted to be older than my actual age. Always.
To make matters worse, when I was fourteen, I still looked like I was ten. I feared that I would never actually become an adult. I thought I would be the one person in history to get stuck in adolescence and live the rest of her days with gangly limbs and big front teeth.
Even now, I long to be more spiritually grown-up than I am. I look at friends of mine who seem downright holy, and I wonder if I’ll ever get my act together. Will I ever have self-control? Will I ever stop caring what others think of me? Will I ever grow bold in my witness for Christ?
Oh, how I want to be like Jesus, and oh, how I’m not like Jesus.
I’m learning, though, that growing up into Christ takes time just like growing into an adult does. I don’t expect my three-year-old friends to discuss Shakespeare with me, and I don’t expect a little sapling in my yard to turn into a shade tree in one year. Yet sometimes I expect myself to jump ahead in spiritual maturity, in holiness, forgetting that it’s the Holy Spirit who causes me to grow.
The Bible encourages us to long for spiritual growth. There is a beautiful, mysterious cooperation that takes place in this relationship between God and me. I feast on His Word, and He strengthens me through it. I walk with the wise, and He makes me grow wise. I step out in trust and obedience, and He increases my faith.
The apostle Peter tells us, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Pet. 2:2–3).
The apostle Paul also encourages us to grow up spiritually “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Eph. 4:14–15).
My prayer for us is that, through the work of the Holy Spirit, day by day, we will steadily grow into more beautiful versions of ourselves, more Christ-like versions of ourselves. We were made to reflect God’s glory, to bear His image, to look like Him, to be holy like Him.
That’s something worth longing for, don’t you think?