Ciara Lilly is a Charlotte-area writer. Her faith-based column, Fishers of Men, is published here each Monday. Opinions expressed are solely her own.

Text: 1 Corinthians 13:11 (AMP)

“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.” -1 Corinthians 13:11 (AMP)

When a child is born, it is the parents’ responsibility to guide, instruct and nurture that child. As children grow older, their dependence on their parents still exists, yet they gain a stronger sense of independence. Eventually, the child develops his/her own personality and start establishing character and morals. Much to the parents’ dissatisfaction, the child starts becoming his/her own person.

The same is true of our relationship with God.

For many of us, we learned about God through the teaching of a minister. Some of us remember developing a relationship with God while sitting on a wooden church pew at our family church; while others may have memories of learning about Him through a beloved family member. No matter your experience, we can all say that someone influenced our understanding of God.

And that’s essential to our development as believers in God. Just read Peter 2:2, which states, “Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation.” Those who influenced our understanding of God provided us with spiritual milk. But what happens when our relationship with God matures? What happens when it’s time to move onto solid food, but we’re too comfortable with the milk?

Let me share my experience. As a child, I knew God to be whoever He was to my closest church acquaintances. I knew my pastor knew God. He talked about him all the time! Yet, I also knew that the elderly woman who sat on my pew knew Him as well. She would call Him “Jehovah Jirah”; and though I didn’t know what that meant, I knew she had a stash of cinnamon disc candy in her purse and I’d call God “Jehovah Jirah” if it meant I could get some candy! I was young, folks.

But as I got older, my spiritual diet changed. I could no longer grow with just milk alone. I needed solid food.

I learned that I needed to know God for myself. I could no longer sit in a church service one day a week for a few hours and expect that to suffice. I was still hungry. I needed more to fill me up. Over the course of years, I started transitioning from just milk to solid food and milk. I didn’t start off with a steak; I just ate until I was full. As I ate more, my appetite increased and I started to grow in my understanding of God. I moved from learning about God to knowing Him personally.

So maybe you’re wondering: What does this have to do with me? Hey, maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with you. But I know that many people are still drinking spiritual milk and it’s time to chomp on some solid food! My friend always says, “Just think how ludicrous it would be to see a woman breastfeeding her 25-year-old son. Well, there are some mature Christians that are still drinking milk.”

Here are two common questions that are asked about the transition from just milk to solid food and milk:

1. How do I know that it is time to transition from spiritual milk to solid food?

First, I think it’s important to note that one should never eliminate spiritual milk from their diet completely. Instead, I believe it’s a great thing to wash down your solid food with. It helps cleanse your spiritual palette. Second, you’ll know that it’s time when you’re still hungry after the church service/bible study. When you find yourself needing more; when you find yourself wondering about God and who He truly is; that’s when you’re ready. And it’s a journey, as I said before, I didn’t start off with a steak; I just fed myself until I was full. Our walk with God is a journey, ever-evolving, so don’t think you have to master this immediately. Eat until you’re full then wash it down with a nice glass of spiritual milk.

2. What’s “solid food,” Ciara? Is this a metaphor? C’mon, break it down!

The solid food I’m referencing is the Word of God. If you take a look at Ezekiel 3 below, it tells how Ezekiel was instructed by the Lord to eat the Word. That’s our mandate if we desire more spiritual nourishment. Our bodies consume physical food for physical sustenance. Yet, we’re required to consume the Word of God, our spiritual food, to provide us with spiritual sustenance.

So if you want to consume spiritual solid food, spend time reading the Bible, purchase some spiritual literature and/or CDs. Endeavor to spend time with God daily; spend time studying His nature, so you can know what He is and what He is not. When you find yourself in need, and you cannot get your spiritual milk, it helps to know God personally.

Ezekiel 3:1-3: “He said to me, Son of man, eat what you find [in this book]; eat this scroll; then go and speak to the house of Israel. 2: So I opened my mouth, and He caused me to eat the scroll. 3: And He said to me, Son of man, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it. Then I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth.”

God wants to reveal Himself to you. He wants you to grow in your understanding of Him. You don’t have to rely on spiritual milk forever; you too can taste the goodness of solid food.

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