Summary: We have to work with our impatience to become fully like God, understanding we’re in a process that takes time.
It Takes Time
Purpose Driven Life #28
February 28, 2004
I want to grow up and be fully like Christ and I want to be that now! I don’t imagine that I’m the only one who feels this. I imagine that this is your desire, too. We don’t want to be babes in Christ. We don’t want to be immature. We don’t want to be less than we can be or less than we should be. We don’t want to be like those people that one author in the Bible had to write to and scold for being less than they should be.
Heb.5.12- 6.3- this isn’t where you and I want to be. We want to grow up and we can be impatient to grow up. In many ways, though, we’re like children or teens that want to be fully adult, but for whom that is not, yet, possible. It’s true for us, as for them, that it takes time to grow. To grow up, you have to ’put in your time’. There’s no shortcut. It does take some time.
I know that as we’ve talked about different aspects of the subject of growing more mature in Christ, that we’ve wanted to grab hold of the lessons and apply them and become fully what God has in mind. We’ve understood our need to become like Christ. We’ve understood that we’re transformed by the impact of Christ and His Word in our lives. We’ve seen how we grow through using our problems and our temptations as stepping stones toward greater Christ-likeness. But you, like me, are impatient for this process to advance. We are all in the same boat on that matter, and that’s a good place to be, frankly. We do not want to be complacent about growing. We need to be anxious to grow. However, we have to be realistic, too.
Think about a garden you’ll plant this year. In the spring, hopefully by the third week of May, we’ll be able to put in the seeds or the plants that will make up our gardens for this year. But, if you plant on May 20, can you expect to see the fruit of that planting on May 21? No. We know it takes weeks for the fruit of those tomato seedlings to be available for our use. It takes weeks to be able to go out and pick fresh lettuce, onions, radishes, and cucumbers for a fresh salad. In that time, we won’t have simply allowed what we’ve planted to grow, either. We’ll have been out there clearing away weeds that might get in the way of the growth. We’ve watered, to be sure there were adequate nutrients available for the tender plants. We’ve thinned many of our plantings, understanding that it’s impossible for every seed to thrive. We’ll have been very much involved in the growing of what we planted, knowing that it takes time for the fruit to come. This is the same with your life and mine, only the gardener is God!
Lane Adams drew a parallel that’s helpful, in some material we studied together at the Men’s Advance last spring. He drew on the example of how the American troops took enemy lands during the war. Particularly, he focused on how enemy strongholds on islands were taken. First of all, enemy strongholds were shelled with bombs from offshore ships. This led to the enemies moving farther inland, and this allowed the Marines to invade the island and establish a ’beachhead’ on the island; a beachhead was simply the beginning and small part of the island that they could control. Once that was secured, they began the long process of liberating the rest of the island, taking a bit of territory at a time, in many cases. Eventually, the whole island was brought under control, but not without many costly battles.
Adams went on to draw the parallel to our lives. Before Christ invaded our lives at conversion, he sometimes has to ’soften us up’ by allowing us problems we can’t handle. Sometimes we opened to him the first time he came to us, but sometimes we didn’t; the first time we opened ourselves to him, he established God’s beachhead in our lives. We didn’t surrender all to him at that point, but we began, and we gave God as much as we understood to give him at the moment. From that beachhead, Christ began the process, that continues to today, toward taking over more territory until all your life and mine is his. There will be battles until the return of Jesus, but we have tremendous assurance of ultimate victory, nonetheless.
Phil.1.6- you might want this to be the verse you memorize for this week- it’s tremendously encouraging! This describes the process we’re in and we have to be patient- with ourselves and with God, the gardener- in the process. If we grow too fast, we’ll not be as strong as we should be either. We’ve all known of fruit that has been forced and how it is never as good as fruit that matures as it is meant to mature. We want to be mature and excellent fruit of the master gardener! Each day, though, each of us is to grow, and so far, we’ve seen that this process involves believing through worship, belonging through fellowship, and becoming mature through discipleship. Each day, you and I become a little more like Jesus. Although we’d like to grow fast, God is more concerned with strength and stability than he is with speed. He’s not really ’into’ the fast food and quick culture.