The Eastern Emerald Elysia (Elysia chlorotica) is a bright green sea slug that lives in the shallow waters of the Atlantic on East Coast of North America. Although only an inch in length, this sea slug is truly remarkable. It has the distinction of being an animal that feeds itself by using photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is the process that all plants use to convert sunlight into energy.
The Elysia begins its life as a larva that feeds on phytoplankton – tiny drifting waterborne plants. But as it consumes these tiny plants, it does not digest its chloroplasts – tiny organ-like structures within plant cells that actually do the work of photosynthesis. Instead, the Elysia stores them in its own cells and uses these chloroplasts to perform its own photosynthesis. When the Elysia matures, it feeds on green algae and continues the process of storing the algae’s chloroplasts in its own cells, making it capable of living on nothing else but sunlight, using the rays of the sun to feed itself. The Elysia can go for periods of 10 months without feeding on algae. But, because it cannot produce its own chloroplasts, it must from time to time go back to feeding on algae.
How remarkable! This little green sea slug begins life completely dependent upon tiny plants during its youth. Yet it can mature so that it can feed itself directly from the light of the sun.
This reminds me of the path our spiritual growth ought to take. Christian believers should learn to live by the light of the Son and nurture themselves directly from His word.
Teachers, preachers, religious books and videos are essential to the health of Christ’s body, the church. Pastors and teachers do the work of studying God’s word, looking to God directly for insight, and converting divine truth into digestible nuggets or milk for those who are young or babes in Christ. But many Christians do not mature beyond that level of always having to be spoon-fed, of always depending upon others to face God and His word on their behalf. They remain dependent throughout their spiritual journey on the work of others, instead of digging into the Scriptures themselves, of meeting their heavenly Father in pages of the Bible. They remain incapable of living off the Son’s light, but must depend on others for the light they receive.
But Christ wants to know us one-on-one, personally, intimately. We must cease to be exclusively dependent upon others to feed us. Christians must learn to feed ourselves from God’s word and nurture ourselves soaking in His light. We will never grow and mature in our Christian experience until we do this. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” is what St Peter commanded us (2 Peter 3:18).
Dear Father in heaven, please wean me off of spiritual baby food and help me to grow and mature in Christ. Teach me to feed myself and to depend upon Your Holy Spirit lead me into all truth. Amen.