I was talking to my brother recently who has devoted much of his life to educating young minds. He passionately explained how the pressure to perform and the end result (no matter how you get there) were to him warning signs of where education is heading too much these days. As a process man I loved how he talked about that the process of educating those young minds was just as (if not more so) valuable for them as that end result. That is really helping them how to learn, research, ask the right questions and then discover those answers was much more of what they as educators were helping these children and young people to do. Last week we started a conversation on our transformation (process of change), as we as Christ followers are to become more like Christ!! I believe process is key to this conversation.
Last week we looked at a passage from 2 Corinthians 3 where Paul was encouraging the church there in this process…. here is what he had to say about that..
And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
2 Corinthians 3: 18 (Msg.)
There is direction here… but it doesn’t have that pressure and expectation to be all done right now (like in our microwave society). But certainly he is talking about movement forward a process if you will of slowly (gradually) gaining on who God is as we experience Him in our process. Eugene Peterson wrote a book titled A Long Obedience in the Same Direction … seems that Peterson has also tapped into the importance of this process as he worked through the Songs of Ascent (Psalm 120 – 134). These Psalms recounted the Hebrew pilgrims journey up to worship in Jerusalem and sang these songs along the way. He then relates these to a Christians pilgrimage as they learn to grow in worship, service, joy, work etc… A process of transformation!!
But remember I talked about my resistance to utilizing weight lifting exercises in my process of health and compared them to resistance that we may have along the way in this transformation process in our lives with Christ. Let me offer one of those resistance areas as an example.
I like many people have for most of my life been deathly afraid to speak in front of groups of people (the larger the scarier). So I set off in life and found a career that had me working often by myself and talking mainly to plants (yes horticulture was my career, which I often pine back for!!). But in the middle of my life I sensed a call into the ministry (even though there were a number of times I wasn’t sure God knew whose shoulder he was tapping). Now I don’t go up and talk in front of large groups of people as often as the preaching pastor…. but way more than I was sure I ever would. The interesting thing to note is that as it is put before me…. and I need to lean heavily into God the more I see Him show up… not just at that moment I need to stand and talk in front of folks, but also in how he shows up in putting together (through me) what He wants those folks to hear. I don’t have enough time and space here to relate all of this… but as I pay attention to Him in the process I learn more and more how He works and who He is!!
The process of moving forward has certainly been gradual… but as I look into those areas of resistance and take steps toward them… I am gaining more and more trust that He will show up!! And that doesn’t mean falling back isn’t mixed in with this process. But gaining in seeing Him work and gaining more and more understanding of who He is, has been incredible. This can and does come in many areas of our life. We need to remember that this part of our walk with Him (however short it is compared to our life with Him in eternity is)… is an important part of our process.
Peterson in that book A Long Obedience….. says that Christians can not stay put in this process or “we will become like statues”. So we need to ask ourselves in our walk do I want to take those bold steps gradually forward or do I want to experience the prison of becoming a statue? Freedom comes into our process as we look to Him meeting us as we step into that long obedience!!
Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! They suddenly recognize that God is a living, personal presence, not a piece of chiseled stone. And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We’re free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. 2 Corinthians 3 : 16 & 17 (Msg.)