It Takes Time to Grow

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  Second Peter 3:18

It is quite apparent when observing nature that most living things start off small and eventually grow larger. This is true for trees, birds, mammals, and, of course, humans. Although the length of time it takes for something to reach full size may vary with different species, as a general rule growth to maturity does not happen quickly. It takes time.  What is true in the natural world is also true in the spiritual realm. When people begin their spiritual journey they do not do so as fully developed or mature adults. No, the Bible indicates that spiritually we begin as infants but our goal is reaching adulthood. The Scriptures also imply that this is a process that also takes time.

Here’s where the comparison between the natural realm and the spiritual realm breaks down. In the natural realm there is generally a steady progression. You can almost predict when a particular species will reach maturity. That cannot be done in the spiritual realm. Why not? Because in the spiritual realm growth is not automatic. It takes effort, a lot of effort. There are no shortcuts to spiritual growth. One must spend time reading the Scriptures and with God in prayer. In order to grow one has to worship and serve.  There will never be significant growth without sacrifice and discipline. That’s just how things work in the kingdom of God.

Unfortunately, many people are not willing to do the things that are necessary to grow. Jesus’ call to deny ourselves, to take up our cross daily and to follow him (Luke 9:23) is either forgotten or ignored. Others try hard but soon give up when they do not see the results they hoped for.  Such folks need to be reminded that spiritual growth takes time and that perserverance is required to see the results we long for.

These are things we need to remember when we look at ourselves and also when we look at others. We should strive for growth ourselves and encourage others to grow as well. At the same time, however, we need to remember to be patient with ourselves and with others during this process because, once again, spiritual growth takes time.  All of us are still on our journey; none of us have fully arrived yet.

If we put in the effort and time necessary we will see and experience growth.  At the same time, it is helpful to recall that it is not all up to us. Paul said “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)  If we will do our part we can trust God to do His part and in time we will grow in love and grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

When you see little trees, little birds, little animals, little people–just remember, it takes time to grow.


(I took the top image a couple of days ago at Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota.  I photographed the whitetail doe and fawn in Shenandoah National Park and the Canada goose gosling near Frankfort, KY.)