With gratitude to Clifton Taubert’s book, 8 Habits of the Heart
As we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
–2 Corinthians 4:18 (MSG)
Nurture: “To care for and protect while something grows”
–Oxford Language Dictionary
The child struggled. Concentration furrowed his brow. Over and over he tried until frustration started to get the best of him. Finally, he sighed as if failure was inevitable. The adult watched and waited to see what would happen next. Would the kid try again? Ah, yes! He’s moving toward it…but at the last second pulled back. The adult breathed deeply. What would be nurtured in this child? What could be nurtured in his heart?
She struggled intensely with anxiety. Low-level tension kept her company almost every day. Words circled round and round like unruly kids – hard to catch and get them to behave. Emotions ramping up, she began trying calming exercises. Running her hands under cold water she focused determinedly on whatever serenity she could find. “Lord, I know you’re with me. I know it’s not all up to me. Help me. Help me believe that.” What is she nurturing in her own heart? If you were her friend, what would you want to nurture in her?
Why did church have to be so boring? Same people. Same stories. Same format. Same complaints. Same loneliness. Looking around he wondered if it was worth it to keep coming. Apathy rode him hard. So many conversations had come to nothing…only the promise of change that never came. Disillusionment in church, in believers, and really, in Christianity eroded his sense of belonging. What was left to nurture in this place? What could be nurtured in him?
I wonder if we view the idea of “nurturing” as soft and encouraging? Sometimes, it is. But to nurture goodness in the face of wrongdoing, strength in the face of weakness, and life in the middle of inertia, something more than encouragement is needed. Vision is crucial.
Without vision, a sense of where this is all going (a picture of how we want to end up, an image of what God might be doing in me or another), how do we know what we are actually nurturing? What is being deepened…strengthened? To what end?
Something in me stops as I write these words. I feel a strong desire to ponder these questions. What is being nurtured in me right now – by my actions, attitudes, movements, and indulgences? Where is it going? Do I have a sense of God’s vision for me? Do I have words or a mental picture of that? What about those in my care? What am I nurturing in them?
I’m not sure I know or will know the answer to all these questions. Perhaps you feel this too…but let’s ponder them anyway! How about we take time right now to open the door to just one of these ideas. Let it roll around. Don’t try to answer it right away, just be with it for now. Then later tonight, sit with the Lord and take out whatever has come. What seems curious to you? Uncomfortable? Surprising? What is it like to talk with Jesus about these things?