My granddaughter, Joanna,will be two years old in a month. I enjoy watching her develop and grow. She likes coming to my house, and I like having her over. As a grandparent, I get to play with her and then, when she’s tired, give her a kiss and send her home. Grand parenting is the best.
She is getting better and better at making her wishes known even if she doesn’t use very many words. She has LOTS of sounds. When Joanna first sees me, she runs up and talks to me for about 30 seconds straight. She doesn’t use understandable words, but the sounds she makes sound just like language. She has the inflections and the tone of conversation. She uses hand gestures to make her point clearer. It’s all there—except for actual words. It is clear that she is practicing language. She has heard people talk and she’s doing what she hears. As she grows she’ll start putting more actual words together.
When we grow in our faith it happens in much the same way. Joanna is learning things about church every week. She goes to church with her mom and dad. She knows music is there and people are there she knows. As she grows older she will learn more about church. She’ll hear stories in Sunday School and Children’s Worship. She’ll understand that there are times in church when we’re quiet. She’ll start singing along with the songs. She’ll take communion. All of these things she’ll pick up as she grows and, just like language, she’ll develop her own vocabulary of faith based on what she has seen and heard.
It’s easy to see that kind of development in children, but adults are developing as well. Every week I’m shaping my faith language through the things I see and hear. I see the community of believers gather. I hear the community ask God for forgiveness and then I hear God’s assurance that we’ve been pardoned. I have an opportunity to give what I have as a way of saying thank you. I sing praises—even sometimes when I don’t feel like it. I lament when there are things that happen that sadden us. All of these things form my faith.
So when I listen to Joanna talk this week, I’m going to do more than just enjoy her babbling. I’m going to recognize that I babble too and that God is giving me the chance to grow, just like Joanna is.