And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.Philippians 1:6
I like to know how things end. If I’m binging a new-to-me tv show, I’m the person who will google what happens with each character. I need to know right now if someone dies or a couple breaks up three seasons down the road. It doesn’t ruin the show at all for me to know the ending while I’m still watching it all unfold. It brings comfort and gives me a semblance of control.
When I was talking with a friend the other day about waiting for promises to be fulfilled, being patient in the process, trusting God’s timing, not knowing how things are going to end, and all that good stuff, I was reminded of something my brother used to say when he was little. Like many kids, the broski used to eat ridiculously slow. He wasn’t a particularly picky eater; he liked most foods. He was just. so. slow. One day one of my parents urged him to pick up the pace when, with all the sass in the world he replied, “I’m eating slow for joy.”
It instantly became a family motto: Slow for joy. Anytime anyone was dragging their feet with something, it was, “I’m going slowwww for joyyyy!”
Friends, God likes going slow for joy. He is working things out at His pace for His pleasure. God takes His time because He loves to watch things grow. Trees start as seeds, buried in the ground. The don’t just simply appear as fruit-bearing towers overnight. Roots have to dig deep. Sometimes it takes decades before a tree bears the fruit it was created for. And we would never expect a baby to suddenly morph into a full-grown adult. We enjoy the process of watching our children grow, take their first steps, lose their first tooth, start school, learn to read, and so on.
But when it comes to ourselves, we want to see how everything ends. If our life were a movie, we would look up the plot line on IMDB. Do we get the hunky husband, 3 perfect kids, modern farmhouse, impactful ministry, and beach vacations every year? What will our life look like when we’ve finally “made it?”
God delights in the process. He loves to see who we become on the way to the thing. He wants a greater intimacy with us as we walk through life’s challenges. God loves to watch things grow, including us. The ending isn’t what matters as much as who He shapes us to be on the way there, transforming us from glory to glory.
This process is sanctification and God looooooves it.
“We’ll never thrive in the process unless we accept the place where God has put us, because that is the only place He will work with us. Faithfulness and obedience call us to recognize what God is asking us to put our hands to and what He is emphasizing in our lives…It takes faith and commitment to trust the God who gave us both the dream and our current assignment and to say, ‘I don’t understand how You’re going to get me from here to there. But getting me there is Your job, and this wall in front of me is my job.’ Faithfulness to build the wall is not giving up your dream; it’s trusting God with your dream.”Banning Liebscher, Rooted
Right now we’re on the cusp between summer and fall and we’re seeing two different kinds of people: those enjoying every last second of sunshine and warmth, and those already busting out the scarves and sipping a pumpkin spice latte.
I’m always painfully aware of those trying to rush into the next season, both literally and spiritually. They are never content with their current situation, never pausing to ask God what they should be learning, doing, and enjoying in this moment right here and now. When I ask the PSL lovers why they are racing toward the crisp fall air, they always reply with, “I’m ready. I’m just ready for fall.” The people who are rushing toward the next season of life say the same: “I’m ready.”
Does God think you are ready though?
Growing up in Colorado, I often saw rapid season changes. There is no slow progress with the weather when you’re a mile high. It could be 80 degrees one day, and snowing the next. When the heavy snow fell on trees still gripping the bright green leaves, their branches broke. The leaves were still far too alive and the snow weighed down the branches until they couldn’t bear the weight. They cracked under the pressure. The leaves needed the slow progression of shorter days. The trees needed the leaves to leisurely die off. The earth needs the gradual transition from summer into fall and winter so things can keep on growing year after year instead of breaking and dying.
God carries you slowly from season to season intentionally. The transition process is so you can shed your dead leaves. There are lessons to be learned, preparations to be made, opportunities to be obedient to what God has asked of you. All of these things help to grow you into who you are becoming. When the weight of the dead things in your life aren’t pulling you down, you will be able to withstand the harsh winter and God can bring new growth in the spring and summer.
Your impact on this world will only reach as far out as your roots go deep. God absolutely wants you to bear fruit, and not just temporary fruit, but fruit that lasts. (John 15) This will only happen if you abide in Him and embrace the process of growth and pruning. There’s no shortcut. There’s no way around the process. If you rush the season you’re in, you won’t survive the next. God loves to watch you grow, and the process is for your good so you can withstand the pressure of the next seasons.
There is joy to be found in every season you are in. And there is work to do in every season as well. We always have an assignment that will prepare us for the next phase of life. Embrace the process. When you are ready for what’s next, God will know. In the meantime, walk with Him at His pace, slow for joy.