I'm writing this on my 36th birthday. The irony is not lost on me, and I've already walked through all the required birthday "what am I doing with my life?" questions. I believe everything will be okay. Growing up is dangerous, whether going from childhood to adolescence or adolescence to adulthood, there are casualties in the maturing process.

We lose familiar relationships we thought would be with us forever (translation "BFF")

We lose familiar emotional reactions, our go-to responses that are so dependable

We lose the freedoms we never knew we had until they were gone, and then proceed to lament them so deeply that we often miss the new freedoms we're stepping into.

Maturity is a minefield.

This idea is no more true than in the process of growing in Christlikeness - the journey of discipleship. The Scriptures talk about a progression - an unfolding and evolving understanding of the God who calls us on and the Jesus who cleared the brush that covers the pathway home.

Peter says, "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…" (2 Peter 3:18, NIV)

Given the fact that his audience was made up of believers in Christ, it's safe to assume that Peter understood that this wasn't a static "come to Jesus and have a seat" kind of scenario. Grace is ever increasing. Knowledge is ever increasing. Together, maturity is ever increasing.

Maturity in Christ is ever-shifting, becoming new and renewed even in the midst of being challenged and questioned and realigned. This is what makes it dangerous.

We get familiar with God, the typical ways of interacting and responding, and suddenly the wise and knowing Father welcomes us into unfamiliar territory. The road signs are in a different language, the food is unique and different, and the customs don't fit as naturally as the ones we are leaving. That is what maturity is - not simply progressing in age, but progressing in the way we know Christ and the extent of the grace He gives to us.

Maturity allows us to hold two ideas in mind at once, even if they conflict.

Maturity allows us to respond to criticism and critique with peace, even when we need to respond with a challenge.

Maturity allows us to realize we are not the ones in charge of who is "in" and who is "out" because frankly no one belongs in, least of all us.

Maturity allows people who claim to be with Jesus to actually look like Him in ever increasing degrees.

So today, embrace the danger. You may need to leave behind your old familiar haunts and customs to walk a bit with Jesus into undiscovered lands, where you see your own darkness anew but see the brightness of the glory of God with magnified lenses.

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