It was a colossal accomplishment! I was so thrilled and beamed with a pride overflowing with the kind of joy children display so readily and easily. I ran around showing my new skill to any adult whose attention I could capture. I’d learned to tie my own shoes. I think I was somewhere around four years old, and I felt like I’d landed on the moon. Indeed, it was around then that the first manned moon landing occurred, but in my mind, my accomplishment was a bigger deal.

For years tying my own shoes was impossible for me, so Mom and Dad (mostly Mom) had to attend to them for me. I can still remember playing outside on many occasions only to need to run in the house to have Mom retie my shoelaces. I’ve never been able to tolerate them being untied. Then a time arrived when my mom started teaching me how to tie them. It seemed ridiculously complicated and frustrating, but Mom was patient. Each time we’d go through it only a few times, not too many for my span of attention or tolerance for frustration. There were little milestones along the way. The first crisscross of the lashes to form an “x”, making one loop while trying to hold everything together, and so on. I don’t know how many attempts I had to make before I succeeded, but it must have been many, or this particular memory would not be so strongly imprinted. One day the impossible become improbable, then possible but difficult, and then it all clicked. And now, I don’t ever think about it when I tie my shoes; it has become a habit.

Walking with God is very like this experience. When we first become Christians, God has done and keeps doing what was impossible for us. We could not atone for our sins, so Christ did. We could not be made new by our own efforts, so God did this by His grace and power. We had so much to learn, so God both came alongside us and brought others into our lives to help us learn His ways. When we’d see a mature Christian doing something for the Lord, we’d think, “I could never do that.” And when we went to church or investigated the Bible, we felt like there was too much to learn, things were impossibly complicated, and we’d get frustrated. But if we continued daily to thrust ourselves into the merciful, loving arms of God, we did grow, we did gain ability and understanding. And eventually, an epiphany would happen, and we’d find ourselves thrilled and overflowing with joy at some newfound insight or strength. Only one danger remained.

Imagine if I’d peaked at the skill of tying my shoes. What if I’d decided that I had arrived and had nothing more to learn or master? That would have been truly a squandering of my life if I’d stopped, content in my meager skill, but believing my talents on par with the scientists who put men on the moon. This is the danger I mentioned above—settling for less than God’s best for your whole life. A Christian resting at an early point in his/her maturity in Christ is very like a person who deliberately stopped trying to learn new things after he/she learned to tie shoelaces.

Our God is the God of the impossible, and since the Bible reveals that it is God’s will that we mature to be like Jesus, settling for some of God in our lives, but not all that He offers is tragic. This means that each of us should put effort into walking with God. We should pray and listen. We should practice the love of Christ at every opportunity, we should read, study, and absorb the Scriptures, and we should find ourselves relying on God’s strength to help us do things that seem hard or even impossible. Maturity in any area requires stretching, effort, and diligence. Celebrate your milestones, but don’t stop moving toward the next one. Only God knows your full potential, so don’t tell Him that you could never do something He wants you to do. God wants to teach you holy habits.

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