These were the thoughts that ran through my mind the day I assumed the leadership role of the local church I lead. Ok maybe not these words exactly, but they were not too distant. In fact I think for most, when we jump into new experiences of life we are often at our peak for foolishness and impatience. It doesn’t matter if the role is leading a church, moving to a new home, beginning a new job, or promotion to a new position. New experiences and vistas will always conjure up a healthy combination of ego and innocence inviting comments like, “Oh bless your heart” from those around us.
In my journey as a shepherd and follower of Jesus it has taken me quite some time to strip away the expectations of overnight success and comfortability. Looking back now with more years under my belt, I can tell my younger self many anecdotes on patience and endurance but I would be lying if I didn’t say that the expectation for quick growth is still present.
There is no better location to learn the hard lessons of patience than a patch of dirt sprinkled with seeds under the hot July sun. Each year at this time I painstakingly check the thickness of each sprouting vine. Impatiently, I look each day expecting rapid growth to no avail. You would think I would remember from the previous year’s garden that nothing comes that quick.
I am unaware where your life currently finds you. But I am confident that for you to achieve what you set out to accomplish, it is going to require time and patience. You may know this in your heart but your mind is checking each day for shoots and vines. Resist the temptation. I assure you the seeds of hope, joy, and advancement lie beneath the soil. Slowly they move vertically towards the heat of the July sun, preparing their triumphant emergence.
Until those shoots arrive I urge you to keep the disciples of Jesus in mind. Those who witnessed the healings of the crippled, demon possessed, and diseased had to slowly learn the unfolding destination of their own lives as they followed Jesus to new vistas on a daily basis. In an authentic moment of frustration, the infamous doubting Thomas exclaimed, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way!?” This was in response to one of the more cryptic discourses of Jesus regarding the future and His expectation that His disciples know how to get there.
I believe all of us can relate with Thomas. But few of us will embrace the answer he receives. Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The way of Jesus is one marked by patience. In following this “way” nothing will ever be described as “easy”, “a walk in the park,” or “piece of cake.”
But do not despair. In the time of waiting for the seeds to sprout, we can expect to discover new truths about ourselves and the provision of God. We can anticipate the discovery of new life with new found meaning and depth. Because after all, anything good and worthwhile requires time and patience for maturity. It is my prayer that the patch of dirt in your own life and its accompanying seeds will be marked by growth and maturity, even under the hot July sun.