The one who claims to abide in God ought to walk just as Jesus walked.
-1 John 2:6
I spent some time with people this week who have babies. I'm not around babies that much anymore. They're cute, but they're odd little things. They don't use words so you can't tell what they're thinking.
Thankfully, babies do grow up. And one of the major indicators of leaving babyhood... is taking those first "baby steps."
Sometimes I hear about growth in the faith journey being about taking baby steps. I guess that makes sense. It's like any real growth in life...
Keep it attainable and easy. Just a little at a time. Be cautious. Let your progress be careful and linear and methodical. You know, "baby steps."
Wait. Have you all ever actually seen a baby in real life?
That is not how it works.
How on earth did "baby steps" become synonymous with incremental, careful, and riskless? That is most definitely not what happens.
Baby steps are anything but linear, careful, and methodical. When babies learn to walk, they bobble all over the place like drunk teddy bears trying cross a pond of floating lily pads.
Without being overwhelmed by the many risks, they throw themselves into the future, usually falling literally hundreds of times before they get a few steps put together in a row.
They are brave and not afraid to fail. They are ok with looking like a complete idiot. And they don't mind falling fabulously and diving forward into their mother's or father's arms. There is even delight in that moment, regardless of success!
In their baby steps, they are full of enthusiasm and energy and fear and risk. And sometimes tears and booboos. But they are brave. They try.
So I'm thinking that growth as disciples of Jesus is about taking baby steps. It just doesn't mean what we think it means. The path of discipleship requires courage and vulnerability and risk that we often fail to name.
Those risky moments of stepping out and moving ahead could look like anything. What looks small from the outside is actually really significant.
To a friend: I was thinking about you and I want you to know how I'm praying for you...
To a spouse: I want our faith journeys to be more connected. Can we learn to pray together more often?
To your kid: I would love to just sit and listen to how you feel connected or disconnected to God these days.
In an email: I think your nonprofit matches God's heart, and I'd like to start regularly volunteering.
To anyone: I'm sorry.
To yourself: It's time to be more generous with my money and stuff.
To an acquaintance: I realized that I know so little about you and your story. Could we have lunch together sometime?
To a friend: Since you mentioned faith, would you like to join me with some friends from my church? We're trying to learn from Jesus to build an honest and loving community, and I think you'd be a cool part of it.
To a friend: Can I be honest with you about what I've been through and trust you to hold compassionate space for me?
Baby steps may look small. But they're bold and courageous and full of faith. And they are life changing.
As a loving parent, God walks with us, catching and picking us up as we learn the skills of love. And like a child, each time we take a courageous step, movement becomes a little easier the next time.
Opportunities for baby steps come our way every day. It's alright if it feels both small and scary. That's what bold, faith-filled moments of vulnerability are. And they teach us to make use of the Kingdom-of-God muscles that Jesus is growing in us. When the time comes, new humans just know they need to take that step and joyfully risk it. In the same way, the more that we grow with Jesus, the more we will be drawn to new movement, both deeper and wider.
So I hope you have the incredible courage to walk with baby steps today, led by Jesus.
Precious Lord, take my hand. Lead me on, help me stand... Peace,