“And He Himself gave some to be apostles some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, that we should no longer be children tossed to and for and be carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in cunning, craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head -Christ- from which the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does it share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16
I witnessed my oldest grandson mature into an older version of himself this weekend when our beloved dog of ten years was dying. Life in the canyon can be hard on animals, but is definitely a place of helping young boys learn how to become men. When there was discussion of the possibility of relieving the dogs suffering by putting her down, I could see my grandson wrestle with what was in the best interest of the dog. Even though very sad, he told his dad he could do the deed if necessary. Visions of “Old Yeller” ran through my head, and I prayed it would not be needed. Blessedly the dogs life ended peaceably as she slept beneath the deck, but the journey into manhood continued for my grandson.
As he watched his dad and grandfather load the dogs body onto the back of the flatbed truck to move it to a burial site, he said he wanted to help his grandfather bury the dog. Mind you, this is no easy task in the rocky ground of the canyon in the waning hours of daylight, but help his grandfather is exactly what he did. I know it was a defining moment in his life. I saw him climb into the cab of the truck as a young boy saddened by the loss of his lifelong companion, but return as one matured by the incident.
So often in life parents try to protect their children from the harsh realities of death, and yet in doing so, they cheat the child from an opportunity to mature. I am grateful my husband’s and my parents taught us that death is just a part of life, and that our children have embraced the same attitude.
Is it sad to watch someone or something you love die? Absolutely, but it is in embracing truth that we mature and grow. Things happen that are sad, disappointing and hurtful. How we respond to them demonstrates our level of maturity.
As I measure all this against the journey of life, I can’t help but relate it to relationships in the world and the church. Not everyone we encounter has experienced the same places of opportunity for maturity as we have, nor received the instructions on how to properly deal with them. Therefore it is important that those of us who have, behave mercifully in our interaction with them. Let us be ever mindful of where we’ve been in our journey and use our experiences in a way that helps others in theirs.
Maturity in handling life’s bumps is a process that is made easier as we embrace one another with God’s love and grace.
May we all grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen*
* 2 Peter 3:16