The Slow Work Of God

In my conversations with people around Recovery, one of the most prevalent themes is frustration over the pace of their progress. “Growth doesn’t happen overnight” has become one of the mantras that we repeat often. We want to change, to grow, and we want it now. But most of the time, growth doesn’t ride on the snaps of fingers.

The Importance Of Zooming Out

When I’m talking to people about this, I always tell them to zoom out. Don’t obsess over how frustrated you are about your recent failings and how little you seem to have grown in the past few weeks. Instead, zoom out and think about how far you’ve come in the past year or two. Most always, when they hear that their perspective is broadened and they admit that they are a completely different person now than they were back then.

Metaphors Galore

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the New Testament uses all sorts of farming metaphors to describe spiritual life and growth. We as modern Americans think fruit just magically appears on grocery store shelves, so we don’t really get it. But if you’ve ever had a garden, you know. There is a lot of waiting. You plow and plant, then you wait. You water, and you wait. You pluck up weeds, and you wait.

And then one day when you’re not even expecting it, you see a little green bulb sprout. Before long, that little flower turns into a little vegetable. Then you watch it grow day by day and eventually it’s ready to pick.

We should probably do more farming. It would be a good reminder that growth takes time. That we can and should do what we can–plow, water, and weed–but the real deep work of the heart is God’s work. And just like a garden, it may be slower than we want sometimes, but in the end it’s all worth it because there is even more growth in the process. He does good work in His good timing.

This poem below is very encouraging to me and I hope it will be the same for you.

May we all “accept the anxiety of feeling…in suspense and incomplete” and “above all, trust in the slow work of God.”

The Prayer Of The Jesuit Priest Teillard de Chardin.

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown,
something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
— that is to say, grace —
and circumstances
acting on your own good will
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser.

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