Everyone who has had a Christmas present knows well one of the ancient litanies of the season: "you'll grow into it." You get that sweater, or shirt, or pair of pants that is held up against your minuscule limbs, and you hear the authoritative declaration: "You'll grow into it."
It is a line I heard as a child, and since parenthood, I've discovered the usefulness of those four words. It's what you say when you see that there is an obvious discontinuity between the size gift and the size of one who has received the gift. The gift is not going to shrink. The one receiving it needs to grow.
"You learn to trust God by trusting God".
I heard that line at an event a number of years ago. I don't remember any other stuff from that event, but that one line has been etched into my memory. I've been thinking a bit about it over the last little while. It seems to me that the great "post Christmas" challenge is to grow up as Jesus grows up. "The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.” We have been given a gift (the Christ), and this gift is not going to shrink. Rather, the Christ will continue to grow, until everything in creation is beneath his dominion, and the world is a footstool for his feet, and his is "all in all". This gift is too large for me. When the Christ is held up against me, he doesn't fit.
I need to "grow into" it.
In my many less pious moments, I like to think that the exercise of "faith" should begin slowly, evoking memories of my grade 9 track coach. I was a distance runner, and I can still recall some of the progressions of training that went along with that. What can be terribly frightening when I read the gospels is the fact that Jesus often jumps straight into large challenges of faith with his disciples. Get out of the boat and walk on water. You feed this crowd of 5000. Can't you cast out demons and heal sickness?
These few examples serve to remind me that the "leap of faith" is sometimes less a matter of belief than of action. It is in acting that we learn what faith is. And more often than not, it seems that Jesus does not give his followers a chance to warm up to the idea; he simply tells them to act. More often than not, Jesus' demands for faith seem to big.
You'll grow into it.