This is the third in a series of posts for kingdom hitchhikers like you and me…
I live in New York, a place where everybody is in a hurry. It’s been said that shortest increment of time known to man is the instant a traffic light here in the city turns green and the guy in the car behind you starts honking his horn! Everybody is impatient and in a rush. We multitask. We look for the shortest checkout lines. We hate slow-walking behind tourists. Driving in the slow lane makes us nuts. We want everything now.
But over the years, as I’ve hitchhiked the kingdom of God, I’ve learned that the most important things in life cannot be rushed. Some things take time. Love, family, friendship cannot be hurried. This is especially true of our spiritual lives. It seems we have a God who likes to take things slow. In his book, The Good and Beautiful God, James Bryan Smith wrote, “In our spiritual life we cannot do anything important in a hurry”. If we’re going to travel down the kingdom road we’d better get used to the fact that spiritual growth is a slow and unhurried journey.
We can’t out run God on this even though we want to. It’s gradual and takes time. There are no shortcuts or express lanes to becoming spiritually mature that a kingdom hitchhiker can take. Spiritual growth occurs on a road that at times is smooth and easy and at other times turns into an obstacle course. Our travel route includes challenges. It involves unexpected twists and turns and an occasional detour. And it entails more than its share of disappointments and even failures.
Learning to think and live like Jesus doesn’t happen over night. Becoming proficient in living a life of love isn’t easy. The same goes for learning to trust and depend on Christ rather than on our own abilities. Keeping in step with his Spirit doesn’t come natural either. All this takes years of getting used to. The training in spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, confession, worship, service and the forming of new habits of the heart such as humility, patience, kindness, and generosity is gradual, making travel painfully slow at times. But with the Holy Spirit coming along side us to help, even the smallest steps forward is progress and bring about change. We just have to get used to remaining a work in progress is all. But there is progress to be made. It’s slow but for those that stick with it and don’t quit, it does take place one step at a time.
So fellow hitchhikers don’t lose heart. Remember what the apostle Paul wrote to a group of kingdom hitchhikers in the ancient city of Philippi, “There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears” (Philippians 1:6)