Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Becoming a giant

It shouldn't surprise you to learn that Beve was a large newborn. He was almost nine pounds when he was born. But here's a hypothetical for you: If the two of us had been born a day apart, rather than a year and a day apart, and our parents had lived in the same city, we might been born in the same hospital, Sacred Heart, in Eugene, Oregon. Twenty years later, after all, I walked past that hospital often. There were heating ducts outside locked doors on the west side of the hospital where my friends and I sometimes stood on cold winter nights while we thought up our next adventures--dessert at the Excelsior? Studying at Denneys? Dunkin' Donuts? A midnight movie? The possibilities were endless and that enclosed, heated doorway was as good a place as any to concoct a plan.

If Beve and I had been born at Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene, Oregon, and set side by side on the scale, he'd have looked long but scrawny compared to me. I weighed 9'5", but was only 19" long. Yep, I was short and fat. Really fat for my size. My mother told me I had so much water weight in my little body that she could  the dents in my skin every time she picked me up in the beginning. My face was fat and my eyes were slits. All that water came from being three weeks over due and I lost it almost immediately.

Beve, on the other hand, started growing and never stopped. 
In fact, if--in our hypothetical story--Beve and I started at approximately the same size, what Beve did is all about the remarkable genetics of his tall family. All of his siblings began their lives at about the same size as the other babies who were born to parents on the same days. But Beve and his brother and sister grew faster and taller than any of those other kids their ages. It isn't like they got a jumpstart, it's just that they had something inside them that made them grow extra-ordinarily taller.

For example, when Beve was about 10, his mother gave him money to go to the matinee down at the local movie theater. The manager wouldn't let Beve in because he didn't have enough money. He was certain Beve had to be over 12 years old and therefore, owed the adult price. Beve's mom, who never backed down from anything, called up the manager and told him a thing or two in her very confident, very stately voice. She was too dignified to yell, but too honorable to let it pass. The movie manager never questioned Beve again.

This is a picture of Beve with his 8th grade basketball team.  I remember this team, of course. They were my classmates, too. There was no such thing as AAU basketball where we lived, so this was the first year of organized, interscholastic sports for boys. Beve stands out as the the tallest boy on the team. He was the tallest boy in our school. He was the tallest boy in school from 4th grade on, as a matter of fact. From this age on, Beve remembers two things about his growing: that his knees always hurt, and that he was always hungry. In fact, he never understood why other people weren't always looking for food. He never, EVER, felt full. Beve and his brothers were on their way to becoming legal giants and it both hurt and took a lot to fill them.

I was thinking about his growing last night. When we first answer Christ's call, we tend to grow quickly. It's like we have what parents and doctors call 'a growth spurt.' But what struck me about Beve (and his siblings) is that they never really had growth spurts, they simply grew steadily and strongly. I think about the hungry Beve felt, and the way it actually hurt that he was growing so quickly. There's a spiritual principle here. We aren't hungry enough, perhaps. We don't have the desire to become giants in the faith. We're willing to be just enough but no more. 

Why is that? What I realized last night, to use a different analogy, is that we're holding on to an icicle and calling that God, or our relationship with Him. All the while we're actually sitting on an iceberg or Antarctica itself, and we never even notice. That's how large God is. That's how much He wants to reveal of Himself.
So the question is, how much do you want to grow? Do you--do I--want to become a giant disciple of Jesus Christ?

You, God, are my God,
    earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
    my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
    where there is no water.  Psalm 63:1

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