My wife gave birth in January 2017 to our daughter 55 minutes shy of 35-weeks of pregnancy. Our daughter was born 4lbs 15oz…1 oz shy of 5lbs. Why are these numbers so significant? If a child is born at 35-weeks and 5lbs., and there are no other concerning issues, they avoid Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and are discharged to go home. My daughter missed these markers and spent the first 7-days of her life continuing to grow and develop in the NICU.
The first six month’s of my daughter’s life consisted of a series of frequent doctor’s visits. Initially, because of her preemie status they were monthly and then became more standard as she grew older. One thing I noticed from these visits was that the doctor paid close attention to her weight (growth). The doctor would report to us after weighing her, that she was “above average” for a preemie and that she was getting closer to the standard weight for a baby her age. This meant that her weight was steadily increasing a pound per month (in some instances slightly more). There had been consistent growth in her life.
At her latest visit, something happened. For the first time the doctor reported that she was below her weight goal. I was surprised. Just a week before, she had been weighed during a visit with a specialist and she was on target. Now a week later, she had lost several ounces. The doctor reassured us that our little girl was fine and that she was still doing very well.
Although the doctor words were reassuring, I still wondered what exactly could have caused her to loose weight? She had not been sick. Then I remembered that my wife had begun introducing her to some solid foods – a little rice cereal, bananas, carrots and potatoes. All of these were good foods and should help a baby continue to grow, I thought to myself. Then I recalled how difficult a time my wife was having getting her to eat.
Our little girl was not excited about these “solids”. First of all they were not being given to her through a bottle like her milk. Second, if she wanted to try it, she had to take it from a spoon. Then there was the newness of texture in her mouth, which caused her to spit out most of her food. The solids were not going down as smoothly as the milk. This situation reminded me of what Paul talked about in 1 Corinthians 3:2 NIV, “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.”
As my daughter was given milk she continued to increase in weight, but for how long? When solids were introduced, she lost weight, because she was not used to the solids. They require work to consume, opening her mouth, working her jaws in a new way, getting control of her tongue all takes effort. Yet, solid food is necessary for her to continue growing and developing.
As believers in Christ – at our rebirth (salvation: acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Savior), we are excited. We learn how much God loves us and how He has forgiven our sin. We learn that the plans God has for our lives are good and healthy. We go to church, worship with like-minded people and we find ourselves growing in this environment. During this time, we are consuming what Paul refers to as “milk”. However, life cannot be sustained on milk alone. We must grow and mature in God’s love. Extending the love God has shown us to others is the solid food.
In Part 2 of Grow, Grow, Grow…, we will explore what this growth looks like in the life of a maturing believer in Christ.