Yes, potty training and sanctification. Who thinks I can make this leap? Haha. 🙂 I’m praying that God uses my writing to connect the two in your head, just like He connected them in my head.
We started potty training Brooks. And I started thinking why are we doing this? (Not in the “what are we getting ourselves into?” way [although I definitely had those thoughts], but in the way of the big WHY questions that my mind tends to ruminate on?)
I think this is the WHY. We introduce our kids to the potty (or the toddler bed, or language, or silverware, or manners), because using diapers (or a crib, or crying, etc.) forever simply isn’t realistic or fitting over the long term and we as parents know that. We guide our children to grow to maturity.
In his New Testament letters, Paul uses the analogy that just like a child physically matures, we also spiritually mature through the process of sanctification (1 Corinthians 13:11, Ephesians 4:13-15, Hebrews 5:12-14). Sanctification is one of those complex and confusing words. I like to use the verse Philippians 1:6 to describe it: “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of His return]”. Sanctification starts with His good work on the cross (salvation) and continues until we are perfect and complete on the day that Jesus returns.
It’s the work that God does in you, pruning you (John 15) and molding you (Isaiah 64:8). God reveals to us new ways of doing things or highlights that our former ways are not realistic or fitting or traits of maturity. Maybe He’s revealing to us new things, like regular prayer or tithing or serving. Maybe He’s highlighting our former ways, like people pleasing or an addiction or unforgiveness.
It can be so hard to let go of these old ways or create new ways, because our brain is ingrained with these “neural pathways”. Think of cutting a log with a saw, the first few cuts are difficult but once you have a divot, the saw can move easily back and forth! But what if you realize halfway through that you need the log a little bit shorter? Imagine trying to start a new cut that close to the old groove, your saw will likely keep falling into the original cut. That’s the same as in our brains, if we are trying to break this old habit or start this new habit, when we get close to our old pathway we can easily go back to it.
But, here’s the good news: Philippians 1:6 doesn’t say that we perfect and complete ourselves. It says that He who began the work completes it. God will perfect us and God will give us the tools we need in the process. We can ask God for the tools to overcome the difficulties of growth and development. We can ask for obedience. We can ask for conviction. We can ask God for His tools, His armor. We can put on His armor and step up to the challenge of letting God prune us and mold us into more mature people.
Father God, Thank you so much that you do not leave us to perfect ourselves. Thank you for the indwelling Holy Spirit that nudges us, convicts us, prunes us so that we more closely reflect Your glorious image. Reveal to us where we need to mature and give us clear direction on how to mature. Help us be remain steadfast when temptations are driving us to our old unfitting habits. We love you. Amen.