Learning to be Thankful for Slow Progress

Recently I read that this time of year (the fall season) is somewhat like beginning a new year. It’s a good time to start something. Or start over. After the summer break and school is back in session, I always feels like it’s a good time to reenlist … to remind myself what I signed up to be and to do as a devoted follower of Christ. It’s time to commit again to fight daily for His glory in my life.
We are starting a new book-study in a few weeks in one of the women’s life groups I help facilitate. From the start, I’m amazed (as I’m working through the first chapter/lesson) at how Lysa Terkeurst speaks into my soul. Right where I am today … right where I am most days.

“We won’t develop new responses until we develop new thoughts. That’s why renewing our minds with new thoughts is crucial. New thoughts come from new perspectives. It is possible to be completely changed through transformed thought patterns. Instead of being held hostage by old thought patterns, we can actually capture our thoughts and allow the power of Christ’s truth to change them!” (Rom 12, 2 Cor 10)

As I lead and challenge our group to pursue the discipline of “making wise choices in the midst of our raw emotions”, I want to be a learner. Wendell Berry said it best “The teachers are everywhere; what is wanted is a learner.” We all are aware that we don’t have to peruse Facebook, blogs, or Twitter very long to realize that people are poised and ready to teach/advise/rebuke. So many are quick to offer opinions, ideas and solutions for just about every subject that exists. Christians are certainly not immune to this rapid response trend. (Are we the worst? Not much better, it seems to me.)

Oh for the grace to hit the pause button on my reactions! It’s not that Christian opinions and beliefs should be kept quiet. Our convictions – if based on grace and truth – should stand strong against the prosecution in the court of Facebook and Twitter. I’m talking more about my heart. Changing my perspective, which will change my thoughts, which will change my attitudes and behavior … now that’s some major transformation. And it’s just the change I need as I enter this new season of life as a wife, a foster mom, a grandma, a life group leader, and a friend. One of my biggest takeaways from the beginning of her book is Lysa’s encouragement to monitor progress not perfection.

Guilty!

I’ve spent so much of my life trying to attain perfection in many areas that I’m often left frustrated and bogged down. True perfection I will never attain. But I can make progress. I can continue the pursuit. For me that’s hard to even type. I realize that not everyone finds the pursuit frustrating. Some people are able to enjoy the journey more than I naturally do. My tendency is to do something well only because of the outcome and not because doing it well is the right thing to do. When the outcome is slow or virtually absent from sight, I too often quit.
I really believe this is why Paul encourages us: Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead, with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Change does happen. But it’s through the process that we experience the growth. In the life we live here on earth it’s something like this: Process. Progress. Process. Progress.
Then, on THAT day: It will be perfected!
The work of the Potter is never finished on this side of our lives. But He IS creating a masterpiece that will one day be revealed. May I be moldable until He’s completed the work in and on me ….

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