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November 14th, 2014

Musing One: Accepting process

Four_seasons

Most real coffee lovers pull a slightly funny face if you offer them instant coffee – have you noticed? Actually, I don’t mind instant coffee, but it’s interesting, isn’t it? We live in a world where everything is instant. Instant coffee, instant custard, instant credit, instant access to any website anywhere in the world… and if our computer connection is slow and it takes two minutes to load something, we start getting annoyed with the computer!! But things that are instant rarely taste as good! How often we want to be instant with our walk with the Lord. We see our own problems and what needs changing, and we want Father to sort it all out in a moment – or even worse, we expect ourselves to sort it all out in an instant.

Now I don’t want to devalue ‘instant’ things in Christianity… I mean, God can do in a day what we would expect to take a lifetime, or longer: in three hours on the cross, Jesus transformed the whole of history. When you and I came to Him we received His forgiveness of our sins, past, present and future – we were given a new heart, and moved out from being under the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, seated in the heavenly places in Christ. Now that is a lot of instant change! Much more miraculous and a lot nicer tasting than instant coffee!

However, I think where a lot of us get confused and discouraged is we think that because God can act instantly and has done in the past, we shouldn’t have things in our lives that still need healing and changing. Have you ever cried out to God about a response you don’t understand in yourself, a hurt you feel, or an issue you face and said, ‘I’ve been struggling with this for so long. Why haven’t You changed it; why don’t You?’ I have… but as I have journeyed with the Father, I have begun to see the importance of accepting ‘process’ in my relationship with Him. I have also seen how hard I find that, and asked Him to help me. So let me share some of what I have discovered so far.

God made a world with seasons and with night and day, with time which progresses, and with gradual change over time. I guess before the Fall seasons would have looked different, but I’m pretty sure they would have still existed, so this tells me process is in the heart of God. Solveig, who I mentioned earlier, has released a CD called Seasons of the soul and it brilliantly has a song for every month in the year and an accompanying line or two of poetry tracking the progress of the soul within the changing of seasons… Seasons are about process![1]

Every six months I try to take a week away with God. This last time I was in the Brecon Beacons and God spoke to my heart about process through the creation around me. Often if I’m needing to hear God on a retreat, I look for something in creation like a stream or a flower that my heart is drawn to and then ask what God could be saying about my life through this. This time, though, I didn’t need to look. In front of my window was a tree that had started turning to beautiful autumn colours, except that only a quarter of it had turned to these colours – the rest was still green. Now I love the autumn, and had stayed at the same place in the height of autumn four years before and the place had been alight with the bright yellows, hazel oranges and deep reds of autumn… This time this tree and most others were only partially turned, and I began longing for the ability to click my fingers and bring on the fullness of autumn there and then. Of course, I couldn’t do that, and I can’t do that with my own life either. As with the seasons, all I can do is wait and accept the gentle, at times ‘slow’, and often even unseen, work of God through which change occurs. There are dramatic moments in nature – a sudden budding, a gale which blows things around, a bird of prey swooping in a moment to catch its prey – but often the change of seasons occurs as a gradual change which cannot even be noticed at the time, but only as one looks back at how things were.

What I needed to see was that if I didn’t accept the tree as it was, without full transformation, I would not enjoy the beauty that was all around… The same is true with my journey with God and yours. It’s so easy to miss the beauty of where we are now in our journeys, simply because we are not satisfied that everything is not yet fully sorted. But you see, we are changing all the time.

What stunts joy in most of our lives is that we often can’t accept ourselves until everything is sorted out and how we want it, and we can find it hard to accept that God doesn’t act as we would. However, He loves us at every stage of our journeys! You see, love does not demand, expect or even ask change of us. He loves us as we are at every moment, whatever still needs changing, and in accepting us, by the very fact of being accepted completely, that love changes us. He doesn’t see you as more beautiful when you are more healed than you were before. He came to you and accepted you as you were before anything in your life had been changed (Romans 5:8-10). He SO SOooo LOVES you! He loves the spring, summer and autumn of your life, and all the in-betweens.[2] He is in no rush… He is happy with you now!

But where there are difficult things we are waiting on God to heal or help us with, it can be so easy to lose heart. I can’t offer you easy answers – there are none – but I can point you to the nature of love. You see, God is gentle. In your life, He has been, at every moment, even in the hardest times, gently working around some of your deepest wounds, removing one root after another, until He can get right to the tap root of the particular issue which is causing you difficulty… He does this in a way which doesn’t force you, in a way that acknowledges your free will as a human being and allows you to let go of things in your own time. I know this can be hard to see, but it really is His wisdom that He doesn’t do it all in one go. I’m not sure we could take it if He did. Instead, He gently works, little by little, until we are ready to receive miraculous change. But so often it is a hidden work. As with the seasons, we often look back and see how far we’ve come, but only over a process, and in time. When you see the issue in front of you, sometimes that can be all you see, but God is working for your total freedom! Trust, beloved of God! Spring never fails to travel its way through summer to autumn! It will be the same with your life. It will! You will see! Let’s be clear – God did not plan or cause the things that have been hard in our lives. They were never His plan. He is the one healing us, and He is doing it over time because it’s the best way possible.

I heard a talk recently by Mark Gyde, who founded a ministry called ‘A Father to you’, and he said that he had been in the car asking the Lord the same question. Having seen the pain in the people he was ministering to, he said, ‘Father, why don’t you just click your fingers and make everything ok?’

He felt the Father respond, saying, ‘What do you think it would be like if I did?’

Then from his heart came the response, ‘It would be clinical and robotic.’

The Father then said to him, ‘If I did, you would not seek me with your hearts,’ and he began to see that there is a beauty in process.[3]

The seasons show me this is true. As I began to accept the beauty around me as it was that week on retreat, I began to experience the beauty of it all in such deep ways. Perhaps if we can start to accept ourselves as we are now, not demanding change of ourselves or God on our schedule, but waiting in expectant hope, then there will be a joy in our lives that we have not known before. Life-changing sudden healings, revelations and encounters will come, and, beloved, rejoice when they do… but let Father also open your eyes to the deep, unseen, gentle work of His hand in your heart at every moment of your life!

My wife was honest enough to tell me when I read this to her that it didn’t answer all her questions on this issue! I expect it doesn’t answer all yours either – but I hope it encourages your heart that it’s ok to be on a journey, and not have everything sorted. Love is coming to you now like the sun, wind and rain come to the earth and bring the amazing change from one season to another. Love is coming to you now and breathing beauty into your life. Love will do everything that needs to be done – all you have to do is let that love come and not try and bring about the change in your own strength. Blessings upon you! Enjoy the beautiful process!!

 

The Musings of an Urban Monk is available online and from bookshops.

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