Not long ago, I read something about how God made the universe over time. According to Genesis 1, God took six days to create everything. Whether you believe that He did all of this in six literal 24-hour periods or an immense span of time doesn’t matter. God decided to take His time with creation and “work the plan.” It’s an obvious point, but one that has profound implications for us.
As we approach Thanksgiving Day, we often express gratitude for food and family – and that is never a bad thing. But do we give thanks to God for any progress we’ve made in our spiritual journey? So often, I think, we become impatient with ourselves. Have you ever made a grand promise to pray at a specific hour, read your Bible every morning, or begin tithing? I know I have. What happens if you stumble? If you’re like me, you get frustrated. That critical little voice in your head starts jeering you. You give up for the millionth time.
But hold the phone. Look back on your walk with God. Have you advanced at all? I bet you can say you have, even if it’s only a tiny inch here-and-there. It may not seem like much, but I bet God is as delighted when we do that as when your toddler took that first faltering step. With one step can come another…and another.
One of the reasons I love Methodism is its emphasis on sanctification; that is, the process of becoming more like Christ. John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement, described justification as what God did on the Cross for us, and sanctification is what God does in us through the Holy Spirit. Sanctification is not a “one-and-done” proposition. It is a construction project. Houses and highways aren’t built in a day – and neither are we.
So don’t be hard on yourself. Keep after it. Take a little time every day to open up to God’s grace. Don’t fret about making big strides – be content with any forward step toward the Lord. Discipleship doesn’t come in a flash of light or even a few months in Bible study. Becoming like Jesus is a lifetime proposition. Sometimes a person might grow in giant leaps, but I suspect most of us don’t. No worries! God’s got your back: “…he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6).
God finished the universe in six days. If He took His time in doing such a vast project, maybe we should give ourselves some leeway in the creation of our true selves. We are incapable of speaking light into existence. We can’t whip stars and planets out of nothingness or make a human being from rib or earth. Only God could do that. And only God is capable of helping you make the spiritual progress you so earnestly desire. So take even a stumbling step toward Him. He will keep encouraging you. He will pick you up when you fall. Let Him work through you instead of you working so hard for Him.
If you do that, I bet you will look back this time next year and utter, “Wow! Thanks, Lord!”