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
Betsy Everett says
I always appreciate your thoughtful words and encouragement for us all. I especially liked the part that, “While we’re working with God, God is working on us”
Through the years of being with other Christians, attending worship and Bible study, reading his word, I have definitely grown in Christ. But still fail at times to live up to what I think I should be!
You are a worker for him, no doubt about it. You are His masterpiece, even if you don’t see it. Ephesians 2:10
Anne kole says
Your article truly spoke to me today. I long to have a servant heart and spirit. God, hearing my prayers and knowing my selfishness, has put me in a season of life when I must serve, not be served. It is a daily inner struggle for me. It means giving up what I want and giving in to what God’s given me to do and be. Progress seems slow and sometimes I feel stuck. But scripture is truth and God is faithful to complete his work in me. You’ve reminded me of that. Thank you!
Anne, Please know from an outsider… your life and heart are inspiring. Be kind to you. Debbie
Geraldine Dempsey says
Thank you again for your message. The messages are timeless, and always needed at just the right time.
Thank you Gerrie. I think of you often.
Helen Marie Brigham says
Thank you for the inspiring message.🙏🙏🙏
Thank you Helen.
Debra Harbaugh. says
At 1105 I read your message. Keep up the good work.
All my love.
Thank you Debra.💕
Thank you for your message of truth (ouch) and encouragement. I lean on, I need, God’s grace today.
You and me too! 💕
So glad to get your message.
If it were up to me I would take the ten step plan and try to check, check check it all off
Of course I would fail. Thankfully God’s way is the best..a”slow, gradual surrendered plan. With His Grace I want to allow Him to work His plan in my life.
Thank you again.
Martha… thanks for weighing in. We Martha’s must stick together. 🙂
I am a planner, organizer. I can give you the list of steps to get things done. Whether this is because of my childhood and being in charge of the house while my mom worked outside the home, (due to my dad’s illness), or whether it is because of my social worker skills I honed years ago to serve as many families as possible or whether it is because of being a military spouse and moving all the time…perhaps it is because God cultivated these skills knowing I would be doing these acts of service throughout my life. I too like to think that as you mentioned, “HE is faithful in spite of myself”, and has prepared the way to make life just a little bit easier. As I fast approach a milestone birthday, I hope I have pulled the weeds and am watering the right green shoots God is growing for his kingdom. This year has caused me to realize that I must be patient with myself–Slow down, step back, care for my own well-being, not try to control the outcome or push too much, BUT, to allow the Spirit to direct my selection of nourishing my body and soul–to wait patiently upon the Lord. Thank you for reminding me that although the steps may be many, in the process, I can and should praise the Lord for the slow time, to listen and experience joy, which makes the harvest that much sweeter.
Amen Vickie. Sounds to me like you’re listening to Him. I don’t think He’ll necessarily make the way easier… but His way is always better. Happy Birthday!
Thanks for the birthday wishes Debbie! I’ve been reading a book, “Get out of your head”, (most of the title), along with a health book and am seeing the importance, of saying no, I have a choice–my own will, Satan or God? or do I just spiral out of control; slowing down to fight stress, and have a couple dear friends who are great with scripture and honest feedback/discussion which we do virtually; and truly realizing I am enough/worthy. Grace and mercy–God’s got this(such a simple phrase you have put me onto, but loaded with all kinds of Love!)!
Jane Meginnes says
So good Deb! Thank you! I have always related to the parable of the sower. You once again used your everyday life events to show us God’s promises and lessens.😘
Thank you Jane. Hearing from you, Im reminded of our lush garden in Peoria. Sure different in the desert but He still makes things grow.
Tough to read this one, twice due to the lacsidasical Christian I have become here in Pagosa Springs. But so appreciated nonetheless. Reminds me of something a dear friend said years ago about a particular book of daily devotions, very convicting. Thanks again for causing me to turn inward, to his spirit and t’god seeking where he would have me. I have been relying on the thought that I am to steadily minister wherever I am, but even that I haven’t given 100%. I appreciate you so much. Thanks
Be kind to yourself Terri. He loves you whether you’re lackadaisical or vigilant. But YOU can enjoy as much of Him as you want.
I love how you remind me to check myself and my attitudes as I wait o Him. Also that HE’s in control and not me.
I remind myself through out the day that I’m doing His Will, His Way and in His time—not mine.
It helps take the pressure off of me when I remind myself.
I agree. When we’re walking closely that is the bonus… no pressure. Unfortunately we are so sheep-like.
So well said – thank you….may we not grow weary….😘