Tuesday, August 21, 2001
After our grandson was born, he wore these cute little mittens much of the time. No, it was not freezing cold in his house. It's just that he had these long fingernails - and since he wasn't very good at aiming his hands, he kept scratching his face with those nails. But in an early visit to the pediatrician, she recommended that the gloves come off. "Try to keep his nails trimmed," is what she said, "but even if you can't, it's better for him to have his hands uncovered." Then she said something that was news to me - "We've learned that when an infant can feel and touch things, their brain cells grow!"
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Feeling and Touching."
Growth really does come from feeling and touching, and not just for little newborn babies. It's often the difference as to whether God's children grow or not, too. Maybe you've had your "mittens" on spiritually - and you're not growing much as a follower of Christ because you're not "feeling" and "touching" things spiritually. You're getting a lot of spiritual information, but there's not much spiritual transformation.
In our word for today from the Word of God in Philippians 3:10, Paul expresses the driving passion of his life in five little words - words which could change the way you do your personal faith. He says, "I want to know Christ" - there's those words - and here's some of how it happens: "and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings."
Now notice, Paul wasn't content to just know about Christ - because it's hard to imagine anyone who's ever known more about Christ than Paul. But after 30 years of incredible work for the Lord, Paul is still restless to "know Christ" - to know Him better. The theology of Jesus will never satisfy the restlessness of your heart - doing the work of Jesus will leave you unfulfilled - it's only really knowing Jesus, better and better, that will give you what you originally came to Christ for - that will give you everything God wants to give you.
And how do you really get to enjoy the realness and the closeness of Jesus Christ? By experiencing Him, not just knowing about Him. And how does that happen? Through situations where you are so dead, so powerless that your only hope is a resurrection - that's resurrection power. And in those extreme moments you touch and feel His life-giving power as you never have before. And then you really get to know Jesus by "the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings" - going through those valleys and wildernesses, through the pain that makes you need Him as you've never needed Him before. It's often true that you don't really know Jesus until those times you really need Jesus.
So, the real issue in growing up spiritually is feeling and touching Jesus in real-life experiences. Like praying God-sized prayers, trusting Him for things only He could do. Like asking Him for inner promptings to do things He wants you to do during the day - and responding obediently when He pushes you to do something. You feel and touch your Lord when you surrender a specific piece of you, of your life, for Him to touch that very day - or when you leave your comfort zone to do something that is "love in action" for some hurting person you know. That's reality.
It's so much more than just going to the meetings or learning the teaching - you've got to feel Jesus and touch Jesus in order to grow in Jesus. Look, you've learned a lot about Him - now concentrate on experiencing Him in the real stuff of each new day.