Today is different from yesterday because each one of us is growing up. I am fascinated by the change that is happening. And as you might have guessed by now I am going to talk to you about growing up.
First of all, growing up is an essential part of life. Not one of us can choose to remain a baby or a toddler. Our parents found joy in each stage of our growing up. When we turned over the first time, the first baby steps, the first words, our first day at school and so on.
But our joy came in a different sense. It came as new discoveries about ourselves and the world around us. It is this sense of awareness that makes growing up a joy.
Secondly, growing up is about freedom and responsibility. When we were young, we had to depend on our parents for everything. Slowly but surely as we started growing up, each one of us became independent in varying degrees. There is a tendency in our teens to rebel and look down on others as we exult in our new-found freedom.
But that is being short-sighted because there is a long journey ahead of each one of us and in a short time we will learn that we have to depend a lot on others to succeed in life.
So freedom is to be used with restraint and caution and also with a sense of responsibility. Let us remind us ourselves of Nehru’s words in his Tryst with Destiny speech that rang out in that midnight hour of freedom where he said: “Freedom and power bring responsibility.”
Thirdly, growing up is about leaving things behind. No one else said it more poetically than St. Paul who said, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”1
Yes, there is a lot of emotional and childish habits, reactions, and behaviour that we need to leave behind. That is a sure sign of growing up and becoming a man or woman in a true sense of what that means.
Fourthly, growing up is about coping with and adapting to changes. There are changes that affect our physical appearance, emotional make up and thinking patterns. These are needed to make us ready for our life ahead. Some of us might find these changes delightful, others may find it a bit uncomfortable especially when it comes to becoming self conscious in front of others.
Some of us shy away from the limelight; others are daring in their adventures. Yet the fun of it is learning to cope with change.
Finally, growing up is about looking ahead with hope. The future is uncertain. In spite of careful planning, things can go wrong. But even when darkness falls; you can trust God with your future. I cannot stress that thought enough: the antidote to fear of the future in an ever changing world is trust in an unchanging God.
Let me conclude. Growing up is an exciting part of life. Along with new discoveries can come new interests, hobbies, peer pressure, and new temptations. There can be the pressure of expectations of parents, teachers, and friends. There can be the challenge of making mistakes and facing criticism for our failures too. But none of these things need to discourage us.
For as the poet Robert Browning in his poem Rabbi Ben Ezra says,
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith “A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!”
Therefore this is my call to you today my friends. Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be!
11 Corinthians 13:11 Bible NIV 1984.