Why Does It Take Me So Long to Change?
Even When You Believe in a Miracle-Working God, Lasting Transformation Takes Time
I want to be more like Jesus. I want to know God deeply, show His love consistently, have strong faith, live a holy life. But even though I’m sincere, most of the time, making biblical changes in my life is so much slower than I’d like.
Jesus often did instantaneous miracles. In a moment He raised the dead, opened blind eyes, lifted the lame, turned water into wine, and so much more. If He can do BIG things like that in an instant, why doesn’t He just do some of those in me?
Jesus Also Likes Slow Processes
Jesus did do many quick miracles; but even He said that was not the “norm” of God’s kingdom.
Jesus said most of the time God’s kingdom grows more like a seed than a lightning bolt. “The kingdom of God is like man who casts seed upon the soil; and he goes to bed at night and gets up by day, and the seed sprouts and grows….” (Mark 4:26–27)
Paul compared our spiritual growth to soldiers in battle, athletes in training, and farmers working hard on their land. (2 Timothy 2:3–6) Each of those examples are long-term in their growth.
Soldier’s don’t become soldiers overnight. No athlete becomes a champion in a few days. And no farmer reaps a harvest in a few weeks.
It’s been rightly said that most “overnight successes” spent years getting to that “overnight” event.
It hit me one day,
God likes the process; not just the end result
This might be a no-brainer for you, but I was going through another season of frustration with my own progress. Why wasn’t I more filled with love for people? I wanted to love people like God loves me; but I was still selfish so often; so impatient, and irritated with the way people acted.
Despite my sincere intentions and prayers, when I looked at my attitudes and behaviors; they were so inconsistently like Jesus…but why?
But then I saw that even when God created our world, He didn’t create the whole world like Eden. He created Eden, placed Adam and Eve there, and told them to “multiply, fill the earth, and ‘subdue it or manage it, develop it.” (Genesis 1:26–28)
God can do everything perfectly. He can do everything better than us. But, because He is love and love gives; because He is a Father and wants the best for His children; He created us to share His life and His mission with us. He gets great joy in watching us (as His children), grow, learn, and master things.
He takes pleasure in watching us grow.
When we receive Jesus, though our spirit is made brand new, holy, righteous, and perfect at conversion; our mind, emotions, and decision-making need lots and lots of updating, renewal, and transformation.
This too is part of God’s design.
The slow process of growth, learning, development, persistence, falling and getting back up, is part of the process of growth….by God’s own design.
Again, God seems to value the process as well as the end-result.
Before Jesus went to the cross He told Simon Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31–32)
Jesus, in this instance, didn’t stop Satan from “sifting Peter like wheat”; not a pleasant experience. We all know Peter denied Jesus three times in the hour when Jesus needed him most.
Jesus knew that was going to happen, but He didn’t block Satan from doing it, instead He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail and that Peter would turn and then strengthen his brothers.
God knew this process would end up bringing long-term gains in Peter’s life. This event would facilitate necessary growth steps in Peter, so He allowed him to go through the most painful, shameful experience of his life.
Peter’s pride would be dealt with and afterwards He would be in a position to be powerfully used by God, with needed humility and dependence on God’s grace and power (not his strength and power.)
To entrust Peter with great power, Peter had to know the limits of his virtue to step into the fuller measure of God’s. God would use Peter so powerfully that even his shadow would heal the sick. (Acts 5)
Maturity Cannot Come Instantly (at least on Earth)
I certainly never want to limit God in what He can and cannot do. But, in a sense, God has limited Himself in that He will never do anything contrary to His nature or His word.
God will never do anything contrary to His nature and He will never do anything contrary to the words He has spoken.
God has said over and over again that in this life, spiritual and personal transformation will most often be a slow process going from “glory to glory” (2 Corinthians 3:18), “from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17).
1 John 3 tells us that when we see Jesus at His return, we will be transformed so that we are like Him. That may include great maturity or it may be that we are finally free from these corruptible bodies and free from the death producing influence of sin; the case could be made for either or both.
But in this life, God has set things up so that spiritual growth and personal transformation, the process of becoming more like Jesus is not quick, but a longer journey requiring humility, perseverance, and learning.
We’ll talk more about why it takes so long in the cleverly named article “Why Spiritual Growth Takes So Long.”
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