Friday, April 23, 2010

Continual Progress: Beginning to End

Joyce Meyer’s podcast today was as wonderfully titled as I think it could have possibly been: Run your Race. She began, graciously, with a few words from the scripture.

2 Corinthians - God changes us into his image as
we continue in the word of God.
Deuteronomy – God delivers us from our enemies little by little.

“Being a victorious Christian means understanding that it is going to take time – every day, every month, every year – it’s going to take time to make progress. But when we come to God, some of us may have quite a bit out of order,” Joyce says. Then, as I always find so fascinating, she talks a bit about her own journey. “I’ve been studying the Word for 30 years, and after the first 5 years of studying it I didn’t feel like I had made any progress. Of course, in my mind I knew that I had made progress, but I still had so much out of order in my life that I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere.”

Wait! Joyce Meyer – one of the most moving and most amazing preachers I have ever listened to had a point in her life when she didn’t think she was making any progress in the Word. Up until those words, I thought angels had carried her down from heaven. But, no! She experienced a lull in her prayer life and in her study of the Word.

“This is where the devil wants you to quit and give up.” She relates this excellently through the example of dieting. “You’ll be losing 2 pounds a week, week after week, you’re doing so good, feeling great, and then all of a sudden you stop losing weight. You’ve hit a plateau, and you’re tempted to give up. But if you just keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll get pass that plateau and start losing weight again. It’s a matter of progress, waiting, progress, more waiting, and more progress. See, you’ve got something to feed your emotions when your making quick progress, but when you’re not making quick progress and your emotions aren’t getting fed, this is when you find out how committed you really are.”

This gets me thinking. What if Joyce Meyer would have said to herself, “I guess I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve been working on this for 5 years and I just can’t get anywhere in the Word. I’m just gonna quit and go find something else to do.” The WORLD would have missed out on such a wonderful woman spreading God’s word! But she didn’t give up – she continued for 25 more years! And she continued to become a world-renowned author and evangelist.

This is where it gets good. Joyce says, “Yeah, I’m living my dream now, but don’t forget about the 30 years I talked about. Some of you may be thinking, I’m not gonna put 30 years into that. Well, you’re gonna put 30 years into something! So is it going to be something that is making you progress, or making you miserable?

And now as I think about my own life, oh how I am so, very moved. How many times have I just given up on something, on anything, I was doing? How many times have I not felt like I was getting anywhere, so I quit what I was doing altogether? And, how long have I been…miserable?

I’ve spoke often in my posts about my problem with discipline. I have been praying to God to help me with this fault of mine, to help me remain committed to Him, to others, to myself – and, at this very second, I am seeing that God has answered this prayer with new understanding. It is during the waiting period--the time when all of the warm and fuzzy feelings that come along with making quick progress slow to a minimal existence--when the seeds that the spirit has planted inside of me can really take root. I must continue doing the things that must be done in order to continue progressing. Even though I can’t feel the progress, I am still progressing, I am still growing. God is simply quietly resting inside of me--maybe he is testing me, maybe he is moving his works to a new area in my life, whatever the reason--God is with me, leading me and guiding me through progress, not stalled progress, but continual progress.

Yes, I understand the importance of discipline and commitment and perseverance and seeing things through to the end--not until I don’t feel good anymore, but until the end.

And on this beautiful, wonderful, indescribable note…The End.

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