Outwardly, growing is not a difficult thing. A child simply stands against the wall while Mom or Dad marks off the inches as the years pass.
But of course the important growing isn't measured by marks on a wall. Most of us think of ourselves as growing when we successfully meet personal challenges or triumph over longstanding character deficiencies.
Don't we wish it were as easy as standing against a wall! Yet steady progress is possible. We have many, many Biblical examples of such growth, and we're sometimes shown a bit of the prayerful modus operandi through which it took place.
Take Moses, for example. Early in his adulthood, the Bible tells us, he killed an Egyptian who had been mistreating a Hebrew. Yet many years later at the height of his lifework as leader of the Israelites he is described by the Bible in these words: ''The man Moses was very meek.'' n1
n1 Numbers 12:3.
What had happened in between? The Commandments, for one thing. Moses had learned to listen to and obey God. God chose Moses as His messenger to convey the Ten Commandments to mankind. Though he had still more growing to do, Moses triumphed, and his love for God, and for the moral law the Ten Commandments represent, must have protected his continued spiritual growth. The Psalmist's words ''The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide'' n2 apply well to Moses.
n2 Psalms 37:31.
There is so much to be learned about the one God who guided Moses and gave us the Ten Commandments. God is divine Spirit; He is Love, the great Principle that creates man; and man, as the child of God, reflects his creator. Since this God-reflection is the true nature of each one of us, nothing is more important than becoming conscious of it. In fact, our fundamental growth is measured in greater and greater degrees of understanding God, and man as His expression. Our love of God's law and obedience to it germinate such growth in us and quicken and protect it. And this spiritual growth is seen in definite moral and personal improvement.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, recognized spiritual growth as an inevitable demand placed upon us by God. She writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, ''Every day makes its demands upon us for higher proofs rather than professions of Christian power.'' She continues later in the same paragraph, ''This is an element of progress, and progress is the law of God, whose law demands of us only what we can certainly fulfil.'' n3
n3 Science and Health, p. 233.
At one point in my life I was sure I had finally grown up. I had gone to college, but it was more than just a change of geography - I really felt I had matured and abandoned some behavior that had bothered my parents. But when I visited home, old problems returned. It was almost as if they had been shelved at home until I returned. The pattern was repeated throughout my first years at college.
Then I decided to dig in and understand the improvement that I knew I had really made and needed to hang on to. I began to see clearly that the growth had taken place in response to God's law. And though it had resulted in noticeable improvement in the way I treated college friends, the important changes had been on a spiritual level. I had learned more about my relationship to God; I was closer to Him. So, since the outward changes rested on spiritual growth, they could not be subject to a geographical place or a set of people.
I remember praying, after that, just before going home each time to know myself more fully as God's expression. As a result, my visits home grew more enjoyable, and I learned to appreciate more fully the growth my family had earned as well.
So we are free to grow. But our right does not come from a change in location , or a new set of people, or another job. Freedom to grow is ours by reason of our sonship with God - the sonship Christ Jesus expressed so fully - and growth means constant joy. It doesn't start or stop with marks on a wall or rises and falls in our human fortunes. We are hearing God's law calling. And when we respond obediently, happy growth is assured. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Revelation 3:11