Growth is Not Uncertain; it’s Certain
Posted by Jana Detrick on August 10, 2017 in Faith
“Being confident of this, that God who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.” (Philippians 1:6)
I’ve been known to underestimate just how mean and how much time the “mean time” really can be. You see, I am a BIG dreamer – high in desire and low in patience and avoidance. So I get a vision for what will be, and invariably want it to be, and basically, now. Delays are not just hard for me, they stretch my faith and test my endurance, cutting me to the core with this repeated question:
Will I choose to trust, and if I do, will I be disappointed and betrayed again?
So much of my heart wants to resound with a booming YES, of course I’ll trust! But the shadows of unanswered prayers and lingering questions lurk and bring a pause of hesitation…what will it take to see a promise come to pass?
I don’t know when I came up with this saying and I’ve needed to remind myself and those I love many times of its truth:
God’s ways often take longer, but always last longer.
I can see the seeds of beauty and beginnings of the good work God began all around me; still the in-between makes me ache with doubt. “Already” and “not yet” are concepts that ring of the Kingdom of God; they are not in competition, but they are in tension. They coexist at the same time and don’t cancel one another out. But because of that tension, we all get the sense that things aren’t quite right just yet…
We read the headlines of human trafficking. We see people unsheltered and hungry under a bridge. We know of kids being abused. In our smaller daily frustrations we can’t connect to the wifi. Or the doctor we need won’t take our insurance plan. Or we are too tired to argue anymore. So we quietly resign ourselves to this hollow brokenness, and wonder, isn’t there more?
Things here are absolutely “off,” not as we instinctively know they should be and hope against hope somehow they will be.
The life of Jesus is a constant study in living in the world of tension and contrast.
Speaking to the crowds then getting away to rest. Condemning the religious then associating with the outcasts. Living in obscurity then being in the spotlight. Challenging others then at times being silent when faced with accusations. Speaking of hope and peace but being in the middle of violence. There was not exactly an avoidance of extremes, but a sensitive moving within them.
This is what I see as the “life to the fullest” proclaimed by Jesus—full of both conflict and calm, joy and sorrow, beauty and pain.
It is God who began the work and God who will complete the work – the only job for us is to follow.
Sometimes I’m afraid I follow at a distance. I’m afraid that even though God desires good for me, I’ll somehow be withheld all that matters most to me. And what I long for most deeply was just a set-up to trick me. When I become more enamored with my vision for the future than with the person and love of Jesus, I forget that even though I feel lonely, I am not actually alone on my bewildering journey through the wilderness. I don’t have to know the path before I get there, that is exactly why the Spirit companions me.
I have been in an especially trying season of “waiting” and the miracles I’m asking for seem a world away; I feel too weary to trust, too wounded to hope. It is in this broken reality where God meets me, takes me as I am and reminds me that even though I don’t know how to do this or where to go, I belong.
I think our deepest impulse is the longing to belong. I don’t know what you’re feeling about your sense of worthiness, wanted-ness, value, or how you fit in anywhere.
I can tell you, you are needed here, you do belong, and you are not as alone as you feel.
God cares about who you are and where you are and doesn’t expect blind allegiance and unquestioned obedience. God simply wants to take the real you to a reality you can’t yet see, in the realm of healing and freedom. The delays cannot be for our torment. They must be for our good and for God to be recognized for deepest love and brightest glory.
Back to that contrast – have you noticed how bright the stars can become when you get an even blacker night and are away from any other city lights? Maybe God wants to lead us out of distraction to a place of clarity. A place where dreams can be birthed again and the seeds of belief can be planted, to someday be places teeming with life.
The work is far from finished and it’s not our job to finish it.
It is our job to allow God to do the work that cannot be accomplished in us any other way. There is no way out, only through. Jesus started the good work and, despite delays, setbacks, mirages and wounds, makes a way toward a full life of meaning. One of my favorite songs from a long ago Billy Graham Crusade choir is titled “My Lord Knows The Way Through The Wilderness.” And I’ll leave you with these lyrics:
“My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow. Strength for today is mine all the way, and all I need for tomorrow. My Lord knows the way through the wilderness, all I have to do is follow.”