The late author Eda LeShan became noted for the “lobster story” reprinted in magazines, books and blogs through the years. I recently came across it again and was challenged by its truth and simplicity.
LeShan tells about attending a dinner party and being seated next to an Oceanographer. She wondered, what will we talk about? Almost immediately the gentleman turned ask her, “Do you know how a lobster is able to grow bigger when its shell is so hard?”
Eda admitted that learning how lobsters grow had not been high on her list of priorities. But now that he had mentioned it, she did wonder!
The oceanographer explained that the only way for a lobster to grow is to shed its shell at regular intervals. When its body begins to feel cramped inside the shell, the lobster instinctively looks for a reasonably safe spot to rest while the hard shell comes off and the pink membrane just inside forms the basis of the next shell. But no matter where a lobster goes for this shedding process, it is very vulnerable. It can get tossed against a coral reef or eaten by a fish. In other words, a lobster has to risk its life in order to grow.
LeShan said she found herself preoccupied with the lobster story for days after hearing it. I must admit I have been as well!
I’m reminded that the apostle Peter exhorts, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 3:18). There are several important points to note from this great verse.
(1) God wants us to grow!
That’s a command. Fundamental to the Christian life is the assumption of growth. Progress. Maturity. And development. Disciples are constantly instructed in the New Testament letters.
In 1 Peter 2:2 the apostle says we should want to grow with the same intensity as a new-born baby desires milk. But growth only comes when we choose to grow. It doesn’t just happen accidentally. George Eliot was right when he wrote, “The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice.”
(2) God wants us to continue growing.
There is not a point at which the disciple of Christ can safely say, “I’ve arrived! I don’t need to grow anymore.” In fact, as C. D. Hamilton points out in his commentary, the verb “grow” in the Greek language is the present active imperative. The idea is continuance. It means to keep on growing.
However, in order to keep growing, we must be willing to shed our shells. To get out of our comfort zone. To become venerable. To take risks. To accept new challenges.
In life we can get in a rut of doing the same thing over and over again to the point of boredom or even depression. Life can lose its zest. Our love can grow stale. Our passion can wane. The fire that once burned brightly can fizzle. To keep that from occurring, we must keep on growing.
(3) There are many ways to continue growing.
Two ways are mentioned in this text–grace and knowledge. We can grow in our access to grace and appreciation of grace. We can grow in our favor with God. And in our gracious attitude that reflects his nature.
Knowledge of God and spiritual matters comes only through the Bible. Through continual reading, studying, and mediating our knowledge can grow deeper, richer and fuller.
We can also grow in our prayer life. In our love for God. In our strength to resist temptation. In our attitude. In our relationships with others. In our domestic duties. And in our spiritual skills.
Is your shell feeling a bit tight? Find a safe place to shed it. Grow a new one. And expect exciting adventures ahead!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman