Our home continues to be a construction zone while we endure a big landscape project. With a projected completion date of three months ago, such S-L-O-W progress has become almost comical. When the bright blue job-johnny appeared, installed conspicuously among our green grapevines, I should have known “one to two weeks” was not going to happen.
Sleeping with the windows open in order to greet the cool dawn has a downside. Instead of a breeze or a bird capturing my pre-coffee attention, I’m jarred awake by music I would not choose. But it’s not all bad. My bud Guiermo, with his winsome smile, over-promises almost every day, doing a bit more than expected. I think that’s the plan to keep me from blowing a gasket. Be patient, he tells me, it will be beautiful. Aw yes…. SLOW gradual progress.
What about your own Slow Progress?
When you take the time to stop and think about it…are you ever miffed by your own slow progress as a Christ follower? Maybe you sometimes surprise yourself by your sharp tongue or judgmental attitude. Perhaps you feel ashamed of your fear or lack of trust. Or maybe, you feel discouraged by your doubting thoughts, or your selfish priorities.
I’m willing to bet that not one of us is where we’d like to be when it comes to our Christ-likeness. Who doesn’t want to be further along the process? Our enthusiasm wanes, though, when we consider what it takes to get there. We want a beautiful back patio without the costly and painfully slow process of construction.
So what does it take to get there? How do we mature in Christ? The disciplines of the faith— Prayer, scripture study, worship, fellowship, stewardship, service… are among the seeds. We plow and sow, water and watch, and eventually bear fruit “with patience”. (Luke 8:15)
Ten-Million Surrendered Steps
Sanctification, the church-y word for this growth process, is no simple ten-step plan — rather a slow, gradual, surrendered plan of ten million steps that ends on the doorstep of heaven.
But sometimes we’re …
Some Christians are just weary of the process. Sure they want to experience the fruit, ( Galatians 5:22 —love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control), but they’re undisciplined about how to acquire it. They’re tired of what feels like self-denial and effort. Tired of taking two steps forward and one step back. Tired of walking on an endless road toward a city they cannot see.
For others the way ahead looks too daunting, the task too great. Given their limited ability, they’re unable to imagine success so they’ve simply given up. Intimidated and disillusioned, they’ve sat down on the path, not even sure when they’ll get back up again.
Others have so filled their days, their seeds have been choked. With little intentional thought, they’ve taken their faith for granted. They believe in God and sleep easy knowing they have the fire insurance. But, with no sense of urgency for what God wants for them or from them, they’ve become preoccupied with their own agenda.
If I’m honest, depending on the day or the hour, I’m guilty of every one of those attitudes. And because of that, I impede my own fruit ripening process …
ALL. THE. TIME.
Can you relate?
Before you get too discouraged or ashamed of your lackadaisical approach, I have good news. It’s called Grace.
You are not some lost cause. You beloved, are a chosen daughter (or son) of the King and your harvest is secure. Consider this…you are in the process of becoming ripe. Because, THANK GOD, … more rests on His shoulders than yours. He is faithful, in spite of you.
Mark 4:26,27 This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.
Isn’t that cool? We’re to faithfully plant seeds and trust God for the growth.
Being patient with the process does not give us license to become complacent with our faith. It’s a privilege to partner with God. And it happens organically when we simply notice where God is working and join Him in that. For example, I’ve been called to help my brain injured son transition to a life that gives back. Often the work feels heavy and hard and I only see a wilderness. But, He is faithful.
The best part is… while we’re working with God, God is working on us.
Philippians 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
I must caution you. To be a steward of God’s kingdom is an incredible invitation. If it feels like a burden, you have completely missed the point. This walk of faith is not an ought-to. (I ought to read my bible, I ought-to prioritize worship). It’s a get to.
I hear the Lord’s whisper… “Be patient my daughter, it will be beautiful in My time.”
Ecclesiastes 3:11 He has made everything beautiful in its time.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke