I haven’t taken the time to look through my own blogs to see if I’d written about this phrase before, but it’s a fave of mine.
The fact is that some days it truly feels like- and other days it indeed IS an uphill climb to progress in personal character.
For those of us serious about loving others, it can be quite the shock to look in the mirror and see how much we lack in loving people like Jesus did and does. BUT…
Though I’m posting this in mid-winter during the polar vortex (!), this past autumn in our sweet side-yard garden a morning-glory bloomed and climbed right up the wall in great beauty. I mean it was glorious!
Now to be clear, I’m NOT saying “that’s ME” in the least… but as a father and grampy I have often been so amazed and blessed at the growth in my kids and grandkids.
The same goes for watching progress among friends who have served together in ministry for years here at JPUSA Chicago.
It is SOOOOO cool to see forward progress, that upward climb, maybe just a little here and there and in small spurts, but when you are graciously gifted by seeing that happen in a person’s life it truly helps make your own climb a bit easier.
I admit, that can be a selfish thing in one sense… but I also know a few folks who beat themselves up over the speed (lack of it) such a process seems to move at. It can feel molasses-like! This is where getting our eyes off of ourselves and also not judging God as some sort of celestial dictator with a bad, spiteful and hateful attitude comes in.
He is patient and kind. We are not. He is perfect. We aren’t by a long shot! He is working more of that patience and peace in us and sometimes the best way to find hope is to work with those judged “hopeless”, notice what HE does in their lives and over time realize we’re all a lot alike!!
Little by little is how things get done. Humans often want the quick fix, a sort of kindergarten-to-Master’sDegree in a week. Ain’t gonna happen. How often quiet are the small, almost unseen movements of the Holy Spirit working among His people in this moment, that moment, this day and that where we then begin to see- often only in retrospect- growth and maturity taking place.
Some sit on a fence and even dig a hole and plant their feet in cement with rebellion. They judge their heavenly Father as one who does nothing in them. They may judge His hand on their life as interference to their own interference regarding spiritual growth!
Some live in deep sorrow, rue the day they were born and consider themselves impossible disciples only fit for hell. God is not God enough to produce the fruit of the Spirit in them, so they figure.
Both, in my view and experience, are plain wrong.
Little by little… whether you realize it or not. The seed planted is going to grow. Keep watering and tending. Let the sun and rich soil do it’s work. Daily Bible study, prayer, confession of sin, praise, thanks, worship, intentionally linking with godly (imperfect but genuine) disciples of Jesus, this is rich soil indeed. Learning to reach out to others and get your eyes off yourself is certainly part of it. All these are elements of the ground of spiritual growth.
Don’t forget: we are not alone in this garden.
Thanks for stopping by! -Glenn