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“The Inevitability of Gradualness!” Hebrews 13:20-22 Key verse(s): 21:“(He) equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and every. Amen.”


“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 to build an ark. The Children of Israel wandered in the desert for forty years and God selected centuries as His process for bringing Jesus into the world. Now, if we had been God would we have chosen these time spans? For that matter, in all the good that we do every day, do we choose to do it within a frame of gradualness? Or, do we set out to make the end happen in short order and then move on to the next project? God often opposes even the good things that we do because it his His will that it be done to his glory and not ours. It is not our will that is important but His. In all that we do we must be constantly reminded that our capacity to know His will is limited; that our understanding of timing is nothing compared to His. When we undertake to do good it is best to leave the outcomes to God and focus on the process we take to get there. Our will is limited, even when it is anchored in faith. When it is subjected to God’s will, our will is perfected. In all things we need to learn that despite the fact that the outcome is uncertain, the process, when subjected to God’s will, is perfected and this will work for our good. Understanding this and becoming content in it is the essence of obedience.

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