Slow Down: Work in Progress

“…it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose.Philippians 2:13

The warning signs are common where road crews are either repairing existing highways or building new ones: Slow Down: Work in Progress. To emphasize the importance of slower speeds throughout these work zones, heavy fines are levied on those who disobey.

Christ followers are taught that spiritual growth is a lifetime affair. In The Message, Eugene Peterson paraphrases God’s glorious goal for us this way: He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. (Romans 8:29) But often we are impatient with the speed with which God works. Because God knows His way is the best way, he actually takes a lifetime for the process! In one version of the Bible the word “wait” is used 129 times while the word “hurry” is translated only sixteen times, and is never used of or by God.

In addition to acknowledging God’s slow and progressive work in us, it is necessary for us to more closely match our speed to His. Most who live in Western countries believe that fast is better. I don’t like waiting at traffic lights. I look for the shortest line at the store or bank. I grow impatient if the clerk is not—in my opinion—working efficiently. All this dribbles over into my spiritual life. Surely five minutes a day with God is sufficient? Swiftly reading through the Bible so I check off that I have read it in 365 days seems to earn me a badge as Good Christian.

How different is the process of slowly reading only a few verses, perhaps only a few lines, and then stopping to meditate on them. In Isaiah 31:4 we find these words: “As a lion growls…over its prey…” Eugene Peterson writes “that word ‘growl’ was frequently used for reading the kind of writing that deals with our souls.”* Isaiah repeats the word later to describe the cooing of a dove (38:14). It has the meaning of slowly savoring the words before us, taking unhurried pleasure in them.

For God’s work to be best accomplished in us, we must learn to slow to His pace. We must observe the signs: Slow Down: work in Progress.

By Marilyn Ehle
Used by Permission

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