Day one: Piles of dirt, stacks of tree limbs and lots of pickup trucks, cars and tractors. Men are standing around drinking coffee and talking. Day two: see day one. Day three: see day one. Day twelve? For the first time I see trenches dug and fresh gravel heaps. For all the men and equipment, it does not seem like much has happened on this city project.
I suppose if I were to go away on an extended trip and return, the differences on that lot I prayer walk past would be significant. I know (by faith) that by the end of summer a beautifully constructed park will occupy what now looks like mere mound shifting.
1 Timothy 4:14,15—Do not neglect the gift that is in you; it was given to you through prophecy, with the laying on of hands by the council of elders. Practice these things; be committed to them, so that your progress may be evident to all.
Spiritual growth is like watching a snail cross the Grand Canyon. If I were to daily measure improvement in my maturity and in my relationship with God even as an optimist I’d be hard-pressed to show progress. But when I view over time His incredible workings and value in my heart, I am astounded at the difference time spent in the Word and with Him makes in building my life and our relationship.
Sometimes I think we Christians embrace secular society’s fascination with McQuick solutions (with apologies to McDonalds). We hear of “life changing” seminars or the newest and greatest method for instant growth. I don’t know about you, but I can’t think of any Christians transformed by programs or short-term, power-packed sessions into pristine believers. If it seems like Bible reading is drudgery, prayer is hard and God is distant, don’t give up! The field becomes a park but never overnight. I’m sure the neighbors are sick of the dust and noise construction brings. But they’ll soon forget the inconvenience when their kids have swings and a great place to play.
By setting aside time for God you are moving forward. Your advancement is not just earthly but eternal. Progress may not come by what is fun, easily measurable or popular. Development may be forged in the mundane oven of faithfulness. It may contort in the process of obedience. It is made brilliant by dull labor and wise through perseverance. If progress were easy Judas might have kissed Jesus differently, Moses could have sold his desert time-share and Peter would have walked across the entire lake. Billy Graham’s reputation as a paragon of godliness comes through decades of faithful living. He sticks with his calling focused on his Savior one day at a time. He, Mother Teresa and (insert your favorite saint here), prove that progress is not fantasy or encrypted mystery. It is finding and following what God wants as Scripture and His Spirit reveal. As my dad likes to say, “inch by inch it’s a cinch; yard by yard, it’s too hard!”
An hour, or half an hour, of daily attention to, and meditation on, our own spiritual life is the secret of progress.—Oswald Chambers in The Moral Foundations of Life
©2007 Daniel York ARR. Reveration is the weekly devotional ministry of First Cause. If you would like to receive these devotionals go to www.firstcause.org and click on the “Click here to receive weekly devotionals” box. Unlimited permission to copy this devotional without altering text or profiteering is allowed subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.
Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)