There it was – bigger than a bus. Here I was, driving down the highway, minding my own business, my head filled with the multitude of tasks on my to-do list. And all of a sudden, it jumped right into the garage of my frontal lobe, or wherever it is that the mental time-travel machine is kept for tune-ups and re-fueling between trips. What IT was was a sign for a well known hotel/motel chain inviting me to stay with them for an extended period of time. And in less time than it takes a chigger bite to start itching, I’m back home at Route 4. No in-flight movie. No meals. Not even a pack of salted peanuts poured in a bottle of Coke.    

The path to the the woodshed is well travelled. Be nice to the folks you see on their way to the shed or who already there ’cause next time it may be your time. And, every time I visited the woodshed, and I say visit because, folks, it’s not a place you where you want to take up permanent residence. But, anyway, every time I made an appearance at that  rural place where more lessons are taught than at a schoolhuse, my visit was always preceded by another of Daddy’s sayings that are forever burned into the hard drive of my memory. And before I learned that sometimes parents ask questions that they neither want nor expect children to answer, the devil in my mouth caused me extended stays at the shed. For many years I always tried to come up with an answer to Daddy’s question, “Son, when are you going to grow up and quit acting like a baby?’

Growing up – something we all have to do- is just part of life. But isn’t it amazing that some folks grow up quickly and others take a liftime and others aren’t even grown up when their pallbearers are taking them on their last trip? We come here as sweet, precious, little dimpled-cheek gifts of God, but sooner or later, we have to grow up. And being an observer of the human race, I believe that the Lord Himself must look down at us sometimes and ask that same rhetorical question that Daddy used to ask us at the shed – “My Child, when are you ever going to grow up and quit acting like a baby?” Yep, sometimes when we act like babies, God has to take us to the shed, too. Been there. Done that. But, according to Daddy’s next statement after his question that he wasn’t asking me to answer, “Boy, this is for your own good.” Funny how it takes thirty, forty, or fifty years to understand the truth of that statement.  

I can hear you asking, so what does it take to grow up and how can I know when I’m grown up? When was the last time you sat down at the supper table to enjoy a delicious, taste-bud tempting meal of strained carrots and green beans? YUCK! Yes, delicious baby food! What? You mean you don’t just absolutely crave that stuff in those jars from with the beautiful, smiling baby on the label? Here’s an earth-shattering revelation. Print this out and stick it on the fridge. The reason that baby is smiling on that jar of drool is because it is BABY FOOD!

And babies will holler and scream at two o’clock in the morning like a bunch of crows in the corn field to let you know that they are hungry for some more of that stuff that they eat half of and spew the other half all over Mommie’s face! But, along about the age of seven (earlier for some, later for others!) after Gerber’s job is done, the baby crawls down out of the high chair and takes a seat on that bench beside the kitchen table. That’s where the fried chicken and mashed taters and cat-head biscuits and saw-mill gravy are being served. Now that’s what I’m talking about! Nourishment for a growing boy.

But wouldn’t it be less than intelligent to stick a drumstick in the mouth of six-week old baby? Or as Uncle Tack used to say, “Boy, you’re sprouting up faster than a weed. Are you old enough yet to eat corn bread without getting strangled?”  And, trust me, back at Route 4, you learned to eat, like, and love cornbread at an early age! We didn’t see many 12-ounce t-bones and baked potatoes on the farm. But, boy-oh-boy, I’m droolin’ right now just at the thought of corn on the cob, with lots of cow’s butter, fresh out-of-garden green beans, butter beans, and squash. Anything except okra! But, you know what? A new-born baby could choke to death on something even as wonderful as the seeds in Mother’s homemade blackberry cobbler. 

But baby food is for babies. You know, those little creatures that cry and scream, holler, bite, kick, spit mess all over your face, and by various and sundry other methods, make you wonder how long it will be before they grow up? Let me show by a show of hands – how many fathers can still remember changing your first dirty diaper? But that’s life, too. That’s how babies are supposed to act. But, you say you know some people who make life miserable for everyone around them and they aren’t babies anymore? Well, back up the pickup! When are they (we) going to grow up and quit acting like a baby?

What are some signs of a thirty or forty-year-old baby? Ever see any supposedly grownup folks pitch a fit? Temper tantrums, jealousy, greed, arguing, complaining, name-calling, selfish, impatient? Do I need to go any further? My good friend, the Apostle Paul, told the folks at Corinth, “I gave you milk, not solid food, because you still have jealousy and arguing in your heart.” (1 Corinthians 3:2-3)

And we read in Hebrews 5:12-14 that anyone who lives on milk is still a baby and doesn’t know right from wrong. But solid food is for the mature who have trained themselves through constant use to know right from wrong. Constant use of what? Thank you for asking! Focused, daily Bible study (speed reading thrugh it twelve months doesn’t count!) is the first baby step toward spiritual maturity. Mix in some other ingredients like a regular and appointed quiet time to talk to and listen to God; and praying without ceasing can help us digest the lessons God would have us learn. And don’t forget worship and thankfulness, joy and patience, forgiveness and kindness. By these (fruits of the spirit) the world and those we love will know that we’ve grown up and quit acting like a baby.   

How would you like your steak cooked?