80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.

Luke 1:80
John the Baptist had this great calling, his parents knew about the calling before he was born. It seems like he was already acting his calling before he was born. He did jump in Elizabeth's womb when Mary came to visit. It is like he was saying, "Ok, I'm supposed to prepare the way for the Messiah. Well, there He is in that girl's womb." Of course, he was not ready for his calling as an infant. He already had the calling on his life. He may have been born with certain a gifting for that calling, but some maturing had to happen. He needed to grow in the natural and in the spirit, and God hid him away until he was ready to minister publicly.

We don't always think about it, but natural growth is necessary for ministry. So maybe John did recognize Jesus even from the womb, but he could not perform his calling. He couldn't tell people to repent until he learned how to talk. He had to grow a little before he could baptize people. Moms, when we give our children healthy food and make sure they get active play to help them grow in the natural, we are preparing them for their destinies. We all have a responsibility to take care of our bodies. I am sure having a healthy, strong body benefits ministers in the mission field. Even in working with the youth or in children's church, having the stamina to maintain a high level of energy helps people serve God. Let's not forget the importance of natural growth in fulfilling the call of God on our lives.

Of course, spiritual growth is vital. We, as parents, train our children in the ways of God. I am sure that Zachariah and Elizabeth made sure John had rigorous spiritual training. They knew the importance of his mission. I do not worry about the occupations my children will have one day. I know God will put them where He wants them. I pray that they will have the character to do what God wants in those positions. As adults, we still need spiritual training. If we ever think we can stop growing spiritually, we need to look at God and see how far we have to go to be completely like Him. Spiritual growth is important in every stage of life for every person.

Thankfully, God will keep us hidden until we are ready for public ministry. Growth can be ugly. Spiritual growth can be much uglier than natural growth. I would rather be a pimple faced teenager, than be in public when God brings my deep sins to the surface. God hid John in the wilderness. You may be hidden in a cubical or at home with babies. Being hidden is not bad. It just means God is preparing you for the next work He wants you do.

John had to go through a time of preparation, in which he grew naturally and  spiritually, and God kept him hidden. We all go through these periods in our lives. These times prepare us for the great call God has for us. Let's get everything we can out of these periods. My pastor says, "Proper preparation in times of obscurity leads to proper performance while under the limelight."

Tomorrow's reading is Luke 1:1-3

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