The Nautilus is is a sea mollusc - you will have seen one even if you don’t recognise the name. It’s that creature which has a shell that curves in on itself - think of a big bent spiral. Turn the shell over and you will see the creature has made certain ‘compartments’ (technically called ‘cameraes’ or chambers). Now here’s the thing: each chamber builds on the one past it, but gets longer and wider and deeper. So that as the shell gets bigger so do the chambers, as the shell whorls around. As the creature grows from one compartment to the next it seals the last one off with a septum. The nautilus is born with 4 chambers and can grow till it has as many as 30.
Here is a profound spiritual lesson for us all. We are found by God, loved into life and salvation. But as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, so each revelation we have of him builds on the last, but gets deeper and wider and our knowledge takes on new insights and practices.
This explains why unashamedly I am evangelical, charismatic and catholic. Each whorl of the shell being built is precious, each is dependent on the other, but together they make up me in my walk with the Lord. And God willing I want the shell to grow and grow. It’s not that I want to deny any of the experiences I have of God - indeed they are sealed and are part of me for ever. But I want to keep adding chambers - in other words keep deepening my knowledge and experience of him.
It’s been said that the only tragic thing in life is not to be a saint - in this specialised sense of being more and more devoted to Christ and more and more holy, becoming more fully conformed to his image.
Christians can sometimes act as if they are embarrassed by their early knowledge and experience of Jesus. But this isn’t the way. Rather, embrace the call to go deeper and know more and see how all you have learnt of your Saviour becomes shaped into something that is distinctly you - and let it be said rather beautiful.