Waiting on a Moment

The life of following Jesus is a fair bit of waiting. You have a desire for transformation, for your heart and mind to change. After all its promised, its sanctification, becoming more like Christ. There are moments of advance, or revision, or renewal, of revealing. But there are also a lot of moments of waiting.

Expand this reality to pastoral ministry and the ache for these things moves from a longing for personal change to something larger, for a body of believers, for a real move of God to grow his kingdom and his people. That’s what I have been feeling.

A big take away for me from the last couple of weeks of a break is how growth comes in rest. Did you know your body grows when you are asleep? Soil is an unsuitable environment for vegetation to grow if it is constantly turned over and disturbed. Spring comes after a winter rest.

I have been trying to find these moments of rest, for me and the church, over the last months but it has been increasingly difficult. The pandemic and social unrest don’t leave much room for downtime, even if we are quarantined at home! It has been four months of constant turning of the soil. Decisions to be made. Material to produce. Aching for growth.

Reading Joshua 14 this morning I saw again the need of rest. The first chapters of this book are conquest. The nation coming into the Promised Land. The is turmoil, enemies afoot, uncertainty. And Joshua leads through it all. Then at the end of chapter 14 we read, “And the land had rest from war.”

From that rest, the land was divided up, cities built, a people flourished.

What will our growth look like if we let the ground rest? How might we set down the plow and see what springs up? How might God move as we wait on a moment?

The soundtrack for this rest is going to be Chris Renzema’s song “Let the Ground Rest.”

Been waiting on a moment
Been waiting on a sign
Waiting for them to call your name
And you’re next in line
Been waiting for your time to come
You’re fifteen minutes in the sun
So don’t you find it strange
That God, He made four seasons and only one’s spring?

So just let the ground rest
‘Cause if it’s not right now
It’s for the best
You’re gonna grow, I know this
But for now, just let the ground rest

You’ve been waiting on a moment
Been waiting on a sign
Waiting for the lights to change
When you won’t feel so stuck or so left behind
Been waiting for the day to come
When you can leave behind what you’ve become
Wash it all away
These flowers only grow once they’ve tasted rain

So just let the ground rest
‘Cause if it’s not right now
It’s for the best
You’re gonna grow, I know this
But for now, just let the ground rest

‘Cause He’ll finish what He starts
He started this I know
But if you saw the plans
Maybe you wouldn’t go
I watched Him plant a seed
And then let the ground rest
So child, oh, believe
‘Cause I promise there’s a harvest

Discipleship, Grace

The Pain of Progress

This week our youngest had major surgery to reconstruct her hips. I have been saying that she is being given hips that won’t lie. That’s the hope anyway!

As she has been coming out of the anesthesia and working toward pain management and her normal personality, I am struck by the pain in her progress. Of course, she would prefer to never experience pain – and as her father, I wish she would never experience it either! But this pain, on purpose and intentional, is headed somewhere. It is bringing her to healing, functionality, better mobility and flourishing. These few days of major discomfort and the weeks of struggle ahead are all ushering something so much better.

I am stuck that our sanctification works much the same way. Our becoming more like Christ, slaying the dragon of self and living for Jesus’ purpose and glory. It is not easy and we could often categorize it as pain or suffering. But just like Adia’s recovery, this pain is part of the progress.

We run after too much that we assume is “pain” free and that never gets us to where we desire to be. On the flip side, we fight against purposeful discomfort because frankly, we are comfortable in our mess, our inability to flourish. Jesus means to end all that and bring you somewhere worthwhile. To the place your identity in him secures, promises, and provides.

Maybe we should lean into trusting his strength and process. After all, he is tremendously good and he loves you. I know it won’t be easy, but it will be good.

I am praying for you as you face the pain in the progress.

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (ESV)


In Christ You are Sanctified by Jesus

I have a confession to make. I am not good at all at making myself better. I read all the books (cliff notes really) and blog posts on how to hack my life and get just that much better. I hear stories of “holy” people and I think to myself, “man I would love to be that good.” But then I spend ten minutes with myself and it is abundantly clear; I have a long way to go and I am awful at making myself better. I am just not that disciplined. I too easily forget who I am and what has been declared over me.

Then I read these words: “For he who sanctified and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers” (Hebrews 2:11 ESV).

Did you see that? He who sanctifies and the one sanctified have one source. Jesus.

Jesus is the sanctifier and source of sanctification. It is his work in me. The author of Hebrews does not say that Jesus provides help to those working out sanctification. He says, Jesus accomplishes, Jesus is the sanctification. In giving up my feeble attempts to improve myself and yielding to the work of Jesus through the Holy Spirit, I will be better.

Friends, it is okay to want to be better. Just don’t for one second think you can make yourself better. Know that in your union with Christ, at repentance and belief in him, he is the one, the source of your becoming more like him. He is sanctifying you. That is good news.

But there is more. Just as he sanctifies you, and because he sanctifies you, he is not ashamed of you. Let that sink in deep Christian.

JESUS IS NOT ASHAMED OF YOU. Ever. In him, he calls you brother. He calls you sister. And he is proud of it. No shame. No condemnation. Nothing of your own ability. All of him, he is the worker and the source. You are the one that is sanctified.

That sure sounds good to me, and I hope it does to you too.