Opening my email every day is like going on a treasure hunt. I have appreciated the stories people have entrusted to me as they hold a longing in their heart for a more vital walk with God than they are yet experiencing. I get to be with them in the darkness and encourage them as best I can to lean more deeply into God’s reality. Learning to do that always takes longer than people hope or want. It is easy to get frustrated as their options narrow and the fears begin to rise that maybe he is not there and is not drawing them toward himself. My heart breaks for them knowing they can’t yet see what is right in front of them, but I know Father is working and one day that work will surface in a way they can see, too.
Yes, it would be easier for us all if he would work faster, if he would function on our time instead of his. But he does not delay to make sport of us, only because he is doing something far deeper and far more profound than we can possibly imagine. He’s not just making the outside better, but liberating us from the inside so that we can live differently and more freely in him. He seems to enjoy that process. I thought about that last night as I waited endlessly for our new puppy to take care of business before we put her down for the night. It’s painstaking raising a puppy. It would be far easier just to get a dog after it’s already grown up a bit, but loving a puppy is so worth it, even for all the accidents and damaged shoes and furniture. Sara and I love the process of helping a puppy grow up into a treasured part of our household.
Would it be so strange that God would enjoy our growth, too? Yes, he knows the pain we’re in, but he’s not about alleviating the pain, he’s about transforming us so the pain no longer destroys us. I got an email the other day that spoke to the glorious way God works, and hopefully sets us at ease to let him do it, rather than living in the frustration of our own timeline:
Thank you for responding to my several emails throughout my journey. Your “work” (podcasts, books…) has been instrumental in my growth. When I first contacted you a few years back I was inquiring about how to find a fellowship of like-minded believers so I didn’t have to feel so alone. You told me to ask God. I did. Nothing happened. This confirmed my inner less-loved outlook (actually “Esau complex”) at the time. So I went into another downward spiral, one of hundreds if not thousands. The interesting thing is that I have not been able to quit God, though, I’ve tried.
Why would I want to keep coming back to a God whom I feels kicks me down and then kicks me when I’m down? It makes no logical sense whatsoever as I don’t have a victim mentality. Yet, it has all been part of a process of God answering my prayers. Looking back, you and Brad and your online community have been for a time those “bigger brothers” (and sisters) that I prayed about. I was not left totally alone. I have a “sister” in Christ whom I’ve shared my journey with since 2000. She lives in another state but we communicate frequently and have the kind of conversations you and Brad have. So, while God didn’t answer my fellowship prayer in the way I wanted, He did answer it.
I know you’re familiar with the book Tattoos of the Heart. In it, “G,” made a comment about “trusting the slow work of God.” Google informed me that it is a poem, which has brought me great comfort. I don’t feel like God’s cast-away any more. I don’t feel like Esau (I shared this with you once before), and while I still don’t feel “LOVED” not feeling hated is AMAZING. I trust that one day I will be able to feel the Father’s love because I am now able to recognize that He is doing this work in me, and He will complete it. Here is the poem.
Trust in the Slow Work of God
by Pierre Chardin
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) was a French philosopher and Jesuit priest. This poem speaks to the sometimes excruciating experience of waiting on God.
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 —
— 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. Amen.
Amen indeed! No matter what evidence you think you have to the contrary, he is at work in you and he will complete what he has begin and fulfill every longing he has put in your heart. It will go so much better for you if you can relax into his timeframe instead of trying to force your own. Remember, he’s not doing what is fast, but what is right, real, and enduring.
I’ve had many a pained email by those on the verge of giving up, thinking that God isn’t there or if he is, that he doesn’t care about them. Then months, sometimes years, later I get the triumphant email that comes when they finally see what he has been doing all along. It takes an amazing heart to hold a longing before God until his glory makes itself known. But the joy that follows knows no bounds.
4 thoughts on “God’s Slow and Glorious Work”
This was so encouraging to me, as often I feel like He isn’t doing anything. For so long, I tried and tried to change myself for God. But over the last few years, He has been teaching me to surrender myself and let Him change me. this is so hard for me bc He just doesn’t seem to work very fast. And I get anxious about all my faults and shortcomings and want them fixed. I want to grow faster. I guess he is teaching me to be patient though and trust him. Thank you for your words that encourage us all along the way.
I have been on this slow work of God journey for 28 years, and the “Christian” part began 10 years before that. Until 7 years ago it was just painful, hardwork where I seemed to go round and round the mountain again and again as Father continued the work of unpicking the bad and ugly stitching and wove in his beauty and joy and passion and LOVE. Not that I felt Loved, I was the child in the party dress sitting on the high chair while all the others were playing outside with Papa. I was always the kid with her nose pressed against the glass looking in while the real family were close and warm inside. Believing those lies I thought kept me safe from being hurt, while all the time they hurt more! Then one painful amazing day my beloved caught my eyes as I was gazing in and twitching as the needle finished a stitch. He turned me around away from the lies to see his work, to see what he saw, to see the truth, and I was “undone” 🙂 . While I had not been looking, God had was creating this unfinished masterpiece, love woven in every stitch, in every time he crawled into the dark holes I slept in and brought light, in every time he unpicked the lies as I willingly went there. It was a revelation of his patience and commitment and love to a chid who believed herself still lost even after being found. God is a homeworker, he handmakes us all, working with precision and skill and compassion and love, we dont have “Made in China” stamped on our behinds, press moulded in the multitudes from a far off factory. I would have been in the discard bin if that had been so, I wouldnt have even made the seconds!
I know LOVE can be a slow dawning, but it is all the more sweeter for it, God is not in a hurry for he already sees the end result, and that day when you catch his gaze and he turns you round to see it too, you will know you are LOVED, and it will change everything.
I love that God has invited you into more spacious places, but hurt with the image of the little girl nose pressed against the window. What a painful lie that was. Glad you made it beyond that misconception and can now celebrate his love for you!
I would like to begin a post related to an ongoing personal process involving “God Slow & Glorious Work”. Reading “He Loves Me” Wayne describes two kinds of prayer. The first kind is a “Please Save Me” pleading with the Lord to alter our circumstance for the better. The second kind relates to an outcome that reflects “The Glory of Our Father’s Name”. Never until I read this book did i think of prayer as our attempt to manipulate the Lord in favor of our agenda. Another of Wayne’s point I never thought about is this, (rather paraphrased); The Lord may intercede in uor agenda so that our actions, although well intended, don’t exacerbate the circumstance and make the problems worse. This is where I was headed just a couple of days ago but fortunately the Holy Spirit did intercede, and changed my path, of this I am very sure. Recently a dear friend, a sincere and devout Believer, via text message ended our relationship very abruptly and quite acrimoniously. This caught me by surprise and my emotions were overwhelmed by the unexpected rejection. My friend cut off all communication and I was left only to guess as to the reason. Perhaps I had said something …..Did Something?……. Or behaved in a manner that offended her? And I have agonized over every conceivable scenario but to no avail. I set about composing a response to her that was a self defense, somewhat accusatory which would have sealed this issue firmly in favor of the enemy. But somehow, while typing my response I suddenly was compelled to hit delete, begin again this time with compassion and patient words. I could not have done this on my own, nor did I pray for the strength and wisdom to send a companionate response. I was in self-defense mode and striking back when the Holy Spirit, without my request, intervened of this I am certain. I have not received a response from my friend. Cant say as I even expect to receive a response or have this disagreement settled in my favor but I do expect it to reflect the “Glory of the Father” which from my human point of reference involves Grace sufficient to dissolve the hardship between my friend and I.
Will keep you all posted as things transpire.
Love and prayers for all…………………..
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