Reading through short, sweet, to-the-point Christian books always makes me a little wary. To me, life can’t be explained in simple examples of scriptural wins created during conference breakout sessions or transcontinental flights. Stories in three or four paragraphs with sunshine-y endings don’t correlate the messy life I see around me. Or, in the starts and stops of a life God-changed.
Real growth can and does happen with Christ, but for most of us it’s baby steps. We don’t get the illuminating light and angels’ music moment from the movies. We simply get nudged to the next phase.
Now, I get it. An author has only so many words to tell a story, and real-life tales accentuate the message. Blending people and altering facts to conceal identities is a noble gesture. Condensing the story helps the pace of the entire piece. It’s all good.
But, that huge leap is allegory not necessarily a practical template for most of us. Growth can be slow and messy. We can backpedal. There are hills and valleys and twists and turns. When we look back over the course of our journey, we see progress, but we rarely see a sole experience that solves the deeper issues of our souls.
Now, that one illumination can prompt our movement, like a pebble starting an avalanche. Real growth then happens over time through many instances and choices.
The stories are necessary, good fodder and explain the larger message. But, we need to remember that though they can and do happen, they are rare. It’s in our moment-by-moment choices and through our development over time that leads to a life changed by Christ.