Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Milk--it does the Body good.
For many years, I've had a disturbing dream. Some of the details might vary, but the underlying theme has remained the same.
The dream always revolves around a baby. It's not my biological child, but one that has been entrusted into my care.
I love the baby and do my best to meet its needs. The child is always quiet and compliant (not like my real children, which is probably why they survived!), and I'm grateful that it doesn't demand my attention. In fact, the baby is so easy-going that I'm able to attend to really important things, like ministry.
Time passes in my dream and I notice that the baby isn't growing. The child is weak and listless and it suddenly dawns on me that it's not eating the food I've provided. Good things, like vegetables and pizza. All organic, I'm sure.
In the dream I had most recently (like just a few days ago), the baby is sucking pitifully on her fist. And the terrible realization comes crashing down on me that I've neglected to bottle-feed the baby, giving her the nourishing milk she so desperately needs.
For some reason, I assumed the infant could feed herself--there was certainly no lack of food in our house! But the poor thing was starving to death, right under my nose.
I always awaken from the dream, grieved in my spirit. I've asked the Lord to help me understand the meaning, but I've not had a clue. Until just recently.
I believe that the babies represent new believers in Christ. Souls that Jesus brought to me for spiritual nurture and guidance. While I truly cared about these little ones and tried to provide a safe place for them to grow up in the Lord, I wrongly assumed their diet was the same as mine, and that they were capable of feeding themselves.
I was so terribly mistaken.
(Interestingly, I think my actions--both in the dream and real life--have mirrored my own spiritual journey. I am the first-born, both literally and spiritually--in my family. In both realms, I'm pretty sure I grew up too fast. I went from being saved my senior year--delivered out of heavy drug use and experimentation in the occult--and headed to Bible college the following September. I don't ever remember being taught about the grace and mercy of Christ. The school was pretty legalistic in nature--it was there I learned that speaking in tongues was of the devil and you were going to hell if you weren't water baptized. Externals were emphasized, while the matters of the heart were ignored.
I do remember being terribly shocked when the college president's wife drove her car off a bridge one winter morning. Her suicide note stated she couldn't take it anymore.
This was the spiritual climate I "grew up" in. My spiritual diet was more gristle than milk).
I did a bit of a word study this week, and found several references to "milk" (as it pertains to the Word) in the Bible.
Peter tells his audience to long for the pure milk of the Word, as spiritual babes.
The writer of Hebrews rebukes his readers for sipping on milk when they should be feasting on solid food.
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes about the progression from milk to solid food as believers mature.
Milk is not a bad thing. On the contrary, babies can't survive without it. That was the message of my dream. I offered the babies God sent me good, solid spiritual food. But I didn't discern that they were unable to digest my offerings. I didn't realize that they needed milk--the simple doctrines of the faith, emphasizing the grace and compassion of Christ.
And because of my lack of discernment, these little ones failed to thrive. In fact, I am distressed to say, some may not have survived . . .
So, I am actually pleased that our church serves up warm milk on Sunday mornings, because there are many spiritual infants in the fold. They can drink in the simple truths, digest them and grow up in the unconditional love of Christ. And as they grow, they will develop a hunger for solid food--and that is appetizingly served in small groups and bible studies in our fellowship. The mature in Christ might not find these meals quite so satisfying--but then, we have the ability to feed ourselves.
The babies don't.
Milk and meat are both essential to our development in Christ. . . but timing is everything.