I have been thinking a lot about our microwave society – and how we want everything RIGHT NOW. And every new technological development reinforces that tendency in us. Some of us remember connecting to the Internet on dialup. That was painfully slow and often problematic (like when your mom or dad picked up another receiver in the house and kicked you offline) – but we didn’t know any better; we were just happy to connect to the Web!
Can you even imagine going back to those days? Personally, I just know I would be RAGING all of the time, because of my lack of patience and my need for speed and instant results. Even now, when web pages load slowly in our phone’s or laptop’s browser, don’t you start to feel frustrated and uppity inside your chest? Honestly, within a few seconds I go from completely calm and peaceful to “WHAT IS FREAKING GOING ON!” (My wife hears me mumble these things to myself all too often through gritted teeth).
I’m not proud of that.
But I just want the site to load already.
I have things to do!
I have commitments to make!
I don’t have time to waste!
Nowadays, we can have our groceries delivered to our home, and don’t have to walk through grocery aisles with a shopping cart. We can ask Alexa or Siri or Google to play any song in the world without having to find a CD on our shelves and put it in a stereo system. And based on all of the books that have come out in the last decade, we apparently can life-hack our way to more productivity, success, and satisfaction just by following a few simple steps.
Don’t get me wrong; it is an extraordinary time to be alive and take advantage of all of these technological advances.
What I’m seeing, though, is that it has crippled our ability to be patient. It has ruined our willingness to tolerate delays in other areas of our life. It has destroyed our capacity to embrace the “waiting.”
Technological advances have crippled our ability to be patient. They have ruined our willingness to tolerate delays in other areas of our life.
And all of this has negatively impacted our ability to achieve true and meaningful spiritual growth. You know, the kind that actually makes a real difference in your life:
Where you’re not still struggling all of the time, but walking in victory.
Where you’re rising above your circumstances, and not sinking back into them.
Where people are noticing that you’re not like everyone else, and your hope, joyfulness, and emotional stability are super attractive to others.
Don’t get me wrong – we all want that. I want that. Badly. But in a world where immediate gratification has become part of the fabric of our beings, we forget that personal development in God’s kingdom is counter-cultural and just doesn’t work that way. Rather, it works in the opposite way. The waiting, the journey, the grind is what he uses to He refines us, and how He makes sure the lessons to be learned actually stick. And how He tests the purity of our devotion and commitment.
The waiting, the journey, the grind is what he uses to He refines us, and how He makes sure the lessons to be learned actually stick. And how He tests the purity of our devotion and commitment.
It’s not comfortable to think about, but you know this to be true.
And so you have to put in the time. A lot of time. Not just months or years. I’m talking decades of intentional effort – pursuing Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind, as He requests. There are no keyboard shortcuts to make this happen. There is no downloadable PowerPoint with bullet points to follow. There is no weekend seminar you can attend, sending you on your merry way after a few worship songs in closing.
You just have to put in the time.
This is the only way for your faith to really develop and really mature. I have an oak tree in my front yard and in my back yard. And I know they will be around way longer than I will, or than even my kids will. This is because their roots go way down deep, over the course of decades. And even when a hurricane comes through (since I’ve lived in south Florida, we’ve had at least four hit my area!), the oak trees remain strong, steady, and immovable through it all.
All of the significant growth that has occurred in my life – you know, the kind that really changes your heart and your deep-seated dysfunctional beliefs and your everyday approach to living – has occurred as I slowly and methodically worked through my issues and doubts and fears and failures over long stretches of time, without me rushing the process.
All of the significant growth that has occurred in my life has occurred as I slowly and methodically worked through my dysfunctions and fears and failures over long stretches of time, without me rushing the process.
And all of the closeness that I experience with my Lord has come because of the time I’ve put in trying to get to know Him and His ways and His promises and His love for me. And I’m still getting after it, because there’s always more to work through and more to experience of Him as I become the best version of myself and fulfill the potential He sees in me.
I have to keep getting after it. And I have to carve out and put in the time, if I really want it.
We need a shift in our way of thinking. We cannot expect major change in our lives with only minor (and short-lived) spiritual efforts. We have become spoiled through technological advancements and our need for comfort, and it has affected our ability to “walk the long road.” So many of us are praying to grow and become more solid and faith-filled – and that is super important, please don’t ever stop praying – but we hesitate to do the more extensive work that is required. It’s not enough to simply pray for it. If you want to experience life to the fullest – which is what God wants for you as well, where you are truly thriving and not just surviving – you have to labor at it. You have to devote yourself to it.
If you want to experience life to the fullest – which is what God wants for you as well, where you are truly thriving and not just surviving – you have to labor at it. You have to devote yourself to it.
Here’s a final thought for you.
Even though it’s miserably hard much of the time, a soon-to-be mom embraces the slog of nine months of pregnancy and the pain of labor because she looks forward to the end result: her prize, her miracle, her bundle of joy. She does what it takes – remembering her multivitamins, consuming parenting books and parenting podcasts, eating well and refraining from alcohol, going to all of her doctor’s appointments, and making the health of her baby her #1 priority.
And then she sees it was totally worth it.
And nine months isn’t really that long in the grand scheme of things. But can I ask: have you recently pursued God with all that you are, for nine months straight? With Him your #1 priority every day of those nine months?
Can we start there and see how it goes?
When you consider the depth of your relationship with Him at that point, and the progress you have made, I’m absolutely positive we will both be able to say that it was totally worth it.