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Scott and I are thrilled to be parents and now grandparents. Watching our family grow and mature is a delight. Even the process of grandbabies progressing from mother’s milk to solid food is a joy. It is no easy task! It takes a lot of effort to learn how to use new muscles and develop effective rhythms of swallowing.  They spit, sputter and sometimes choke. Choking is part of the growing process.

So it is in our spiritual life. We become born again and begin to drink in the milk of God’s word and grow! Our spiritual appetite increases and we move onto more solid food. We develop a rhythm of doing life with and for God.  We mature and grow spiritual muscles.  Along life’s way we too spit, sputter and choke!

So what does it look like when we are choking on spiritual food?

“Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly-mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed you are still not ready. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly”? “Are you not acting like mere men?” I Corinthians 3:1-4

So my jealousy and quarreling is the equivalent of a baby choking on solid foods.  That feels laughable if it didn’t ring so true! When a baby is choking on physical food a wise mother doesn’t’ shame the baby, she knows to slow and change the routine mealtime. In the same way, wisdom helps us to see our jealousy and quarreling as friends rather than foes. Choking is a warning sign that changes need to be made.

I will never forget when I was praying for someone I love deeply.  This person was making choices that so clearly disregarded his savior, Jesus Christ.  As I prayed, I found my heart was full of anger, resentment and quite honestly, rage. “He knows better!”  As I spent time in God’s word and in prayer, those feelings humbled me. I realized I, myself was “choking”.

Dear friend, if you are choking I’m not asking you to stuff it and pretend as if conflict does not exist.  That’s called being nice.  Nice is not fruit of the Spirit!  Nice is a polite way to hold in or deny truth-possibly because we have ugly feelings surrounding that truth.  Unfortunately, we nice Christians eventually explode all kinds of immaturity inwardly on ourselves or outwardly on others.

I am suggesting to be truthful with yourself, your God and those around you, ideally before you choke.  It may be as messy as an infant going from momma’s milk to cereal but it is possible! It takes humility and courage to learn how to eat well.

Choking is alarming and often comes as a surprise.  Choking can lead to sheer panic, but it is not the time to stop eating spiritual food. In other words, it is not the time to stop reading your Bible. Choking is a signal to be even more intentional and choose appropriate spiritual food.  Pre-choking feelings or choking is a time to slow down and chew 32 times before you swallow.  I’m not talking about finding a quick fix and inhaling fast food. Instead, it is time to change your menu and mealtime routine and dine with God.  If you are like me, you may have to ask your Heavenly Father to puree your food, because there are times that. I just can’t seem to get it down.

I made a chart for myself, to help identify some pre-choking tickles or gags of the heart.  The fruit of the flesh also helps me realize when I am full blown choking!  Experiencing the fruit of the flesh, inwardly or outwardly is an indicator to run to my Heavenly Father and tell him what is going on in my heart.

Fruit of The Spirit                    Fruit of The Flesh
Love                                       Selfishness
Joy                                         Resentment
Peace                                    War
Patience                                Irritability
Kindness                               Cruelty
Goodness                              Revenge
Faithfulness                           Disloyalty
Gentleness                            Harshness
Self-control                            Thoughtless

Sometimes my choking is embarrassing.  I think, I should be more mature than to choke on that! It’s then I remind myself that God sees me as His child. I’m thankful for His fatherly heart.  The cereal drooling down my chin or the solid food that I spit out does not deter Him from loving me. God knows, even better than I, that choking is simply an indicator of where I am in the growth process.

Even though I choke, I will try again.  With practice, I will move onto and accept the more solid food.   I pray I never stop learning and striving toward maturity, even when I am choking.

“Let a living faith in Christ working in you
be the secret spring of all your work;
this will inspire at once humility and courage.”
Andrew Murray

Lynn Jackson
Thrive Leadership Foundation