by Geraldine Soh
Growth – this word somehow triggers a fight or flight reaction in us. For some, it triggers an instinct to face it head on. In fact, such individuals may actively seek out avenues of growth given their strong aversion to stagnancy. For others, especially those who are extremely comfortable where they are, the thought of growth is nerve-wrecking. For them, growth is synonymous with change; with change comes uncertainty, and with uncertainty comes a whole lot of other fears.
Regardless which side of the fence you are on, it is more important to begin to view and understand growth through the lens of Christ. Our ultimate goal as Christians is to be in communion with Jesus Christ. In this light, growth – be it physical, emotional, mental or spiritual – has to draw us into greater communion with Jesus, and transform us to become more and more like Him. Growth, therefore, is also necessary, and part and parcel of every Christian’s journey.
Having recently experienced a season of great uprooting, pruning and seeding, I hope to share with you what I have come to understand about growth and our Jesus, the eternal gardener of our hearts and souls.
1) Growth is Uncomfortable and Inconvenient
As humans, we tend to gravitate towards the path of least resistance. Research even shows that our brains are hard-wired to opt for the easy route. However, growing as a Christian often involves taking the tougher, narrower path. Growing is not easy! In my reflections, I have found that the best ‘environment’ for growth is one that pushes us out of our comfort zones, and is inconvenient. Beyond making a decision, it will also push us to take action.
A mini example – I had participated in Treasure, a young working adults retreat organised by OYP, last November as a facilitator. The retreat was primarily hosted online on Zoom due to the pandemic, but we were invited to have a face-to-face meet up with our cell groups (group size of five as per the national guidelines at that time). As a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, such as the circuit breaker earlier in the year and the default work-from-home option, I had become so used to being at home that my first reaction to this invitation was one of reluctance. Uncomfortable? Yes, as it directly challenged what I have grown accustomed to. Inconvenient? For sure, as compared to meeting on Zoom. That said, I did attend the meet up in the end, and I am glad I did! This account may seem insignificant, but it showed me that I can decide and act against my natural inclination to convenience and comfort, and grow in my capacity to love others, even strangers.
2) Growth Has to be Rooted in Jesus
Not all growth, or what we perceive as growth, is salvific. In other words, we need to be aware that certain tough times that we go through, which we think are part of a growth process, may not necessarily bring us to greater communion with God and His people, or makes us more like Him.
Our greatest guarantee would be to remain close to Jesus, for it is said in John 15: “Apart from Him, we can do nothing.
“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself unless it remains in the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine and you are the branches. The one who remains in Me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5)
Jesus – our saviour and source of all goodness – He is our greatest security. When your growth is rooted in Jesus, you can be sure that what you endure and go through will not go to waste. Also, as He has promised, you will bear much fruit.
#3: Your Growth is Never Just About You and You Alone – and That’s Good News!
Jesus has big and wonderful plans for you! As you uncover the dreams and desires that He has placed in your heart (tip: Learn to say YES to Jesus! The more you do, the more apparent His plans will become), you will begin to see how they are meant not only for you, but for His Church. Collectively, we make up the body of Christ. Our individual growth has to go towards building up and strengthening this One body. Growth that is rooted in Christ therefore has a divine multiplier effect; your growth impacts that of your neighbours, and their growth in turn has an impact on you!
Remember that growth does not happen overnight. For those of us who may be going through a tough season, or feeling stuck or stagnant, I pray that you place your life once again in the hands of our God and let Him take the lead. There is no such thing as a dead-end when Jesus is in charge.
Here’s to growing together in the Lord!
Hello, I’m Geraldine. I am turning 30 this year, the same age that Jesus started His ministry! Not sure what lies ahead but I can rest easy knowing that He knows.