Braced for the future

Davesenpic0005“Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”- Colossians 2:6-7

“The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”- Confucius

My freshman year at Luther High School South in Chicago brought new academic as well as orthodontic challenges.  Throughout my grade school years my front teeth angled outward so severely that using them to bite an apple was futile.  Additionally, after my remaining baby teeth were pulled, a 1/4″- 1/2″ gap existed between my upper/lower canines and molars.  Incremental tightenings during the next several years straightened my front teeth and eliminated the gap (finished product on display in senior picture).  The change was so dramatic that my orthodontist once took my before/after molds to an orthodontic convention.  I vividly remember the day my braces came off and I was fitted with a retainer.  On my way home I made one purchase at the neighborhood IGA- a pack of Adam’s Sour Orange gum!

Those small, imperceptible adjustments transformed the alignment of my teeth, anchoring them in place.  I was braced for the future through consistent application of orthodontic techniques.  As Proverbs 21:5 (The Message) states: “Careful planning puts you ahead in the long run; hurry and scurry puts you farther behind.”

Jeff Manion devotes Chapter 14 of The Land Between to the concept of incremental growth, defined as the “kind of gradual growth [that] often occurs as a result of a consistent spiritual diet accompanied by a responsive heart.”  Such gradual growth is capable of producing powerful life changes.  Incremental growth:

1.  works to fend off spiritual drift

2.  steadily aligns our hearts with God’s heart

3.  enables us to respond to God’s transformational work with trust and cooperation forged through daily obedience

When the crashing waves of vocation loss threaten to sweep us away, these gradual changes in our faith sustain and transform us, as Pastor Manion writes:

“It is in saying yes to God again and again when little seems at stake that we prepare our hearts to say yes to God when everything is at stake.  In this way, steady, incremental growth prepares the heart for extreme disruption- not just to weather these seasons but, in the midst of them, to be transformed.”

 

 

 

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Dave Henning

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