“I was doing the right thing; but it seemed the harder I tried, the worse it got.” Did you ever feel that way? You set out to do the right thing, the thing that it your heart seemed right and good. With good conscience you set out to make things happen for good and, before your know it, things turn out bad. Obeying that still small voice within that called you out to serve, to assist, to make better, you ended up accomplishing the opposite. Why does God let things like that happen?
Sometimes, even when we “know” we are headed in the right direction, we still tend to get lost. In our hearts we feel we have done all the right things. We took time to think it through before we started. We even checked with the Lord before we undertook our plan. What more can be asked of a Christian than to pray, plan and execute? If that can’t guarantee success, what can? Perhaps the problem is that sometimes, maybe even often times, we too often base our actions on the outcome and not on the process. We surmise a plan to train up a child or help a friend because, after prayer and considerable thought, we envision the end of the process, the success of our own actions. Then, when we reach the end of the process and find that it just didn’t work out the way we thought it should, we are disappointed, even discouraged.
God is always more focused on the processes in our lives. For this is how He shapes us and strengthens us. Reaching our goals and realizing that we have accomplished what we set out to do, does little in the way of building character and helping us to conform to the image of Jesus Christ. Rather, how we get there is the important part, not necessarily what was ultimately achieved. It may mean that it will take multiple processes to reach the goal. But, so much the better when it is the process that is important.
One day Dwight Morrow and his wife, the parents of Anne Lindbergh, were in Rugby, England. After wandering through the streets they realized that they had lost their way. At this moment an incident occurred that entered into Morrow’s philosophy and became a guiding principle in his life. He stopped a little Rugby lad of about 12 years. “Could you tell us the way to the station?” he asked. “Well,” the boy answered, “You turn to the right there by the grocer’s shop and then take the second street to the left. That will bring you to a place where four streets meet. And then, sir, you had better inquire again.”
“This answer came to symbolize for Dwight Morrow his own method of approaching complicated problems,” writes Harold Nicolson in his excellent biography. “It implied in the first place a realistic skepticism regarding the capacity of human intelligence. It was in the second place an object lesson in the inevitability of gradualness. And in the third place, it was a parable of how, when the ultimate end is uncertain, one should endeavor to advance, if only a little way, in the correct, rather than the incorrect direction.” (Bits and Pieces, December 1991, p. 14.)
Although God has and will continue to do many things in an instant, His has always been a regime of gradualness. Even though He created the earth in but six days, He subjected time to the gradualness of His will thereafter. Abraham waited for decades for the promise of his son Isaac. It took Noah half a lifetime ...
Continue reading this sermon illustration (Free with PRO)
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Rich Young on Jan 17, 2001
Obedience is seeking God with your whole heart. Performance is having a quiet time because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t. Obedience is finding ways to let the Word of God dwell in you richly. Performance is quickly scanning a passage so you can check it off your Bible reading ...read more
Contributed by James Wilson on Nov 23, 2000
While Sir Henry Brackenbury was a military attache in Paris, had a conversation with the distinguished French statesman Gambetta. Gambetta said, "In these days there are only two things a soldier needs to know. He must know how to march, and he must know how to shoot!"The Englishman quickly ...read more
Contributed by Dan Erickson on Nov 14, 2000
C. S. Lewis describes it so magnificently in The Screwtape Letters. He says, "Satan’s cause is never more in danger than when a human being no longer desiring, but still intending to do God’s will, looks around upon a world from which every ...read more
Contributed by Denn Guptill on Oct 23, 2000
Fred Smith, in his book Learning to Lead wrote “The shepherd or pastor’s ultimate goal is not to please the sheep but to please God.” Cecil Paul the Author of Passages of a Pastor says that pastors need to free themselves from and I quote “The Tyranny of Evaluation.” Tim Hansel writing in his ...read more