I try hard not to make “honey-do” lists for my husband, Jonathan. I really want to tackle projects by myself, and I don’t want to add more to his already full-plate, but there are times I can’t do it by myself. Sometimes I need extra muscle or another pair of hands, and I call Jonathan to the rescue.
“Honey, will you please help me with something? It shouldn’t take very long.”
After 29 years of marriage, Jonathan realizes that “not very long” to me translates to “much, much too long” for him. He has quite a history with me and has recently started telling me, “I’m happy to help you, but your project will take much longer than you think.”
His gracious yet matter-of-fact statement continues to surprise me, because it seems like my job should be accomplished fairly quickly. After all, I can see all the steps in my mind, along with the beautiful finished results. Inevitably though, my fast projects become much longer and drawn out than I had imagined, because the “doing” of the steps takes so much longer than the “seeing.”
I find this concept to be true of the personal transformation process, as well. We know that we want to be more like Jesus, to reflect His image in our thoughts, words, and actions. We may even imagine what we will look like when we arrive at this beautiful place of sanctification. Nevertheless, sometimes we get so frustrated and disheartened by how long it’s taking. We need to remember that change takes time. It’s important to be patient with the process.
Be patient with yourself. God is at work in your life. You are saved because of His grace, His unearned blessing extended to you. You keep your right standing with God through Jesus Christ, again by His grace. You’re not who you want to be, but you’re not who you were. God is not a harsh taskmaster, but rather has graciously invited you to partake of His nature and life.
Ephesians 2:7-8 in the Message translation says this:
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish!
God continues to shower us with grace and kindness. In the midst of the sometimes messy, three-steps-forward-two-steps-back transformation process, His grace covers us. Yes, our progress might be disappointing. Don’t despair. Ask for forgiveness, get back up, and keep moving forward in God’s grace.
Be patient with others. Sometimes it’s easier to see the faults of others. Their mistakes and shortcomings glare more brightly than yours. As Jesus said, you notice the speck in their eye and miss the log in your own. It’s hard when people show great promise of change. You hope for the best, and then they let you down again. They fail yet another time. Or you pray and pray and pray for someone, only to glimpse the slightest improvement. Will they ever get it right?
Don’t forget the grace of God when it comes to others. You are a recipient of God’s generous grace. He has extended many chances to you, multiple opportunities to “get it right.” God is love. He “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:7, NIV). Extend His generous grace to others whether or not they “deserve” it.
Change takes time. Bring God’s grace along for the journey. Be patient with yourself and others.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6 NLT).