Kids’ service at church was finished, and the new group of volunteers was entering the noisy building. With basketballs bouncing and four square games in full swing, I quickly gathered up my purse and Bible to hurry across the street to the main church service about to commence. I swung around, and there in front of me was Josh.
Josh was a fourth grader when I had begun working in children’s ministry. He was the kid who was always eager to volunteer and help in any way that he could. He was the one who made a teacher’s job not only easier but meaningful. If you needed participation, Josh was the first to answer your group question or rapidly flip through the pages of his Bible to read aloud that Sunday’s verse. Each week he would tell me about his camping adventures or Lego masterpieces that he had constructed.
My surprise at seeing him was probably a little too animated as I exclaimed, “JOSH! You’ve gotten so tall! How are you? And seriously are you like 6’2”?” His reaction was a slight lift of the chin and a kind smile. As he strolled on by, I heard him whisper, “Yeah, probably.” The way that I had addressed him was like the fourth grader I had known, but what I had failed to realize is that five years had passed and Josh was a totally different person. His willingness to serve as a helper in the next service proved that he still had that giving heart, but he was no longer a little boy. He was a young man and deserved to be treated as such.
This encounter was a reminder for me. It pointed to the fact that everyone is changing. All we have to do is look at our children’s baby pictures to be reminded that those babies no longer exist. They are now potty trained, can write their names, and some are already driving. What about the other people in our lives? I have been married for decades to my husband, and he is no longer the same man I married, and I am not the same girl either. As we continue to put God first in our daily decisions, we become more and more like Him. We are being changed into His likeness.
I want to encourage us today to admire those around us for who they have become and not keep them in the same box of familiarity of the past. We are growing and changing, and so are they. Sometimes we even do this to ourselves. We have to put down negative thoughts of how we haven’t changed and say no to thoughts of ‘I’ve always been this way.’
I am reminded of the story of David when he first came upon the sight of huge Goliath (1 Samuel 17:23-28). David was questioning those around him. Who is this giant? What will be given to the guy who kills him? As David was getting the scoop on what was happening, his older brother spoke up and reminded David of how he had always been seen by others:
“Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert?” David’s brother wanted to keep David in his place, remembering him as the little brother, when in reality David had been preparing and was ready to slay that giant. David’s faith was huge, and he had been killing wild animals on the secret training grounds of the shepherd’s field.
How about when Saul had been killing Christians but was totally changed on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-31)? He was called to minister to and be a part of the new body of Christian believers, but Jesus’s followers at the time were scared and wanted to stay clear of that former killer.
David was no longer the little shepherd boy, and Saul was now Paul who would write many books of the Bible. Let’s see ourselves and others as who God says we are, not as who we used to be.