Several weeks ago we noticed an industrious pair of robins building a nest in a tree directly outside our bathroom window. Just about a foot below the window and perhaps 8 feet out from the house, in a little crook of a crabapple tree, they built a nest of grass, mud and bits of string. Before long the mother began spending all her time sitting on the nest and though we couldn’t see the bottom of the nest we knew that she had laid some eggs. Sure enough, a couple of weeks later we began to notice little pink heads and yellow beaks protruding from the nest. We laughed at the little things as they sat with their beaks to the sky, wide open, just waiting for a feeding. After just a few days their heads and then their bodies began to rise above the edges of the nest.
It was incredible to see how quickly they grew. In less than two weeks they bore a striking resemblance to their parents. Though still quite small and though their chests were spotted for camouflage, they seemed as if they were just about ready to explore the world. This morning after I woke up I took a peek through the blinds and sure enough the nest was empty. The little birds had flown the nest.
I was actually quite sad. I had enjoyed watching the birds grow up and was sure that I would get to watch them for longer than two weeks! But just like that they were gone. You know, I wonder if even their parents were surprised at how quickly they grew up. It seems that children always grow up faster than their parents expect, for I can’t count the number of times I have heard people older than me marvel at how soon their own children flew the nest.
I reflected on this further and began to think about my own children. Even now I can’t believe that my son is already four. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were celebrating his first birthday? Just two or three days ago that he first called me “daddy?”
Though it will probably be twenty years before I walk my little girl down the aisle, I have little doubt that as I hold her arm and walk her into her new life and into her new family, I will be struck by how quickly time passes. I can imagine her childhood flashing before me, as it will seem like just yesterday that the nurse passed me the little pink baby just moments after she was born, all swaddled in blankets, and who stared at me with her big brown eyes, wondering who I was. I’ll have memories of chasing a little, bare-bottomed, giggling baby around the house, trying desperately to corral her to get a diaper on her before company arrives. I’ll have memories of her first day at school, her first ballet class and probably even her first date. I know it will seem that there just hasn’t been enough time – that I’ll want her to wait for just one more day. Just one more day to sit with daddy and talk about her hopes and her dreams. Just to sit with daddy.
It seems time just passes too quickly.
It seems they grow up so fast.
I wonder what God thinks as He looks down on me. Does He look down at me and wonder to Himself how I could have come so far, so fast? Does He smile in amazement that after only ten or fifteen years of being a Christian I’ve grown up so much?
Somehow I don’t think He does. In fact, it is far more likely that He looks down and shakes His head in wonder that I have so often refused to grow up; that I’ve refused to learn from the tough times and have refused to keep my sight fixed on Him in the good times. So often I have believed that I can do this all on my own. So often I have had to be reminded that I cannot. And just as often I have failed to learn my lesson. I have failed to grow up.
But as often as I have chosen to continue sipping milk rather than grow up and begin to chew on solid food, God has extended His forgiveness. He has given me the hope and even the yearning to desire adulthood. It seems ironic that I will never fully become alive – will never fully grow up – until I die, for the day I leave this earth and pass into glory, I will finally reach full spiritual maturity. Yet even now I know that with His help and through His grace I will continue to grow up, continue to grow closer to Him and continue to grow in my desire to be like Him.
God help me grow up.