When the progress feels slow

Jesus, learning to live as one with you often seems two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes three steps back. One block after another barring the way into the joy of deep intimacy. Since union with you is what we’re created for, what you and we (when we see clearly) both long for, why does it take so long to learn to live it? 


I sit with the question for days. The answer, I think, is a many-pieced mosaic. Today I see this piece, revealed in a 3500 year old story. (The big questions are asked in every generation. . . )


God is making those he has chosen his own. Rescuing them from those who would keep them in chains, serving gods who are no God at all. God is bringing his people into the place he is giving to them, the place of rich blessing and extravagant provision. The place where they are to learn how to live blessed so they can bless others. See this: He doesn’t do it all in a moment. And see why:


“The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you. But the LORD your God will deliver them over to you. . .” (Deuteronomy 7:23-24)


Were the struggles eliminated all at once, the wild pride would multiply. Challenges removed? Laziness would set in. Fear gone instantly? So too the desperate dependence that keeps driving us closer to the Source of our life.


See the love that protects the children, removing the challenges but slowly.


And see this too. Twice it is said, framing the reason the struggles remain. “The LORD your God will . . .” When progress seems slow, we are not to doubt that God is still at work. Setting his people free and bringing us into fullness – in His time and in His way. 


Our sister from the fourteenth century encourages us. (The big questions are asked in every generation, and the truest of answers still speak.)


“. . . when the soul continually seeks God, it pleases him greatly.

For the soul can do no more than seek, suffer and trust – and this is the work of the Holy Spirit in the soul. And the clearness in finding him comes by his special grace, when it is his will. This seeking with faith, hope and love pleases our Lord, and the finding pleases the soul and fills it full of joy. . .

            Seeking is as good as seeing during the time he lets the soul labour. . . For a soul that entirely clings to him with true trust – either of seeking or seeing – is the highest worship it may bring him . . .” (Julian of Norwich)


He never asks us to fill ourselves or fix ourselves. Just to bring our emptiness to Him. To cling to Him, whether we’re empty or full, seeking or seeing, struggling or resting in joy. Just come.


“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)



Related posts:

Beating on the chest of God  

When you wait long 

When you long for fullness