The Slow Work of God

This morning, I sat with the verse in Luke 2:52, where the medical doctor and Gospel writer tells us that "Jesus increased in wisdom (in broad and full understanding) and in stature and years, an in favor with God and man" (Amplified version).Here we see the whole spiritual formation of the Lord Jesus. He increased and Luke then tells us the categories of how Jesus grew and increased.I read this in the Amplified version because, in this version, we see how wisdom is defined--a broad and full understanding of life and faith. Oh, how we all need this kind of increase. May we all increase in a broader understanding of life and faith. May we increase in real knowledge both of God and ourselves. It was John Calvin who explained that "the greatest way for a person to know God is to know themselves and the greatest way for a person to know themselves is to know God." When I think of Jesus growing in this kind of knowledge I can understand his formation and my own. Step by step; year after year, we grow in understanding God and knowing ourselves.But this kind of knowledge takes time. There is no substitute for time. We cannot microwave or speed up what we know and how we know it. There are issues in the first half of life we learn and we can't really know the issues or themes of the second half of life until we transtion into the second half and that happens in time and through time.Since January, I have been reading and re-reading a wonderful poem. Read this poem. Read it slowly. Think about each line.Patient TrustAbove all, trust in the slow work of God.We are quite naturally impatient in everythingto reach the end without delay.We should like to skip the intermediate stages.We are impatient of being on the way to somethingunknown, something new.And yet it is the law of all progressthat it is made by passing throughsome stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time.And so I think it is with you;your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,let them shape themselves, without undue haste.Don’t try to force them on,as though you could be today what time(that is to say, grace and circumstancesacting on your own good will)will make of you tomorrow.Only God could say what this new spiritgradually forming within you will be.Give Our Lord the benefit of believingthat his hand is leading you,and accept the anxiety of feeling yourselfin suspense and incomplete.—Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJChardin unpacks how we have to have patient trust. We cannot skip the intermediate stages. We can't get to the end before we go through the middle. We can't skip seasons, years or events that will shape us.I've found great comfort and encouragement in this wonderful poem. The world we live in now is so demanding for everything to get things done quickly. Yet in the spiritual life, we cannot skip the stages; seasons or events that will shape our soul.Jesus couldn't either. Each year of his boyhood; each festival he attended; each sabbath he enjoyed; each walk with his mother and father; each time of playing with his cousin John and more---shaped his soul.As Jesus increased in time, may we do the same. May we exercise the slow work of God in our lives and through the world with patient trust!-----------------------------------------------The Potter's Inn Soul Care Institute has two new cohorts--two new opportunities for you to grow your soul and deepen you walk with God. Check it out at The Soul Care Institute----------------------------------------------Looking for something to study and learn to help you care for your soul? Check out Soul Care 101: Spiritual Conversations by the Crackling Fire with Stephen and Gwen Smith. Here's the link: Soul Care 101: Spiritual Conversations with Steve and Gwen Smith