A few months ago, I woke up in the middle of the night. Feeling particularly alert, I rolled over onto my back, folded my hands across my stomach, and just listened. In the beauty of that peaceful, dark stillness, the Lord gently said, "Son, you have settled."
As an internal processor, suddenly feeling vulnerable, it's incredible to me how quickly your mind seeks to prepare for how you are going to receive whatever is coming next. In those few seconds, I quickly rummaged through the mental closet thinking, "Will I receive this as the easily-offended pharisee, the rejection-fearing adolescent, or the much-loved child?" Resting in the kind intention of God's will toward me, I spoke the words of the boy Samuel. "Speak, Lord, I'm listening."
Reminding me of my prayers of gratitude before I had fallen asleep, He tenderly continued, "I am not bringing you through this healing process for you to just sit on the front porch, rocking in the contentment of progress toward restored wholeness. And, I have not brought you to this place for you to simply bask in watching younger ones take your place at the table, pick up mantels, and accomplish whatever it is that you think you weren't able to do. Son, you are not meant to squander the spirit of wisdom and revelation you have asked for. There is more ahead."
In the sweetness of God's presence in those quiet moments, I didn't feel called out, I felt called up. And while I normally would journal that kind of experience, that night, I kind of filed it away in a "that's cool" folder in my brain... and then, (I hate to acknowledge this), simply forgot about it amidst the busyness of life. That is until a particular building caught my eye on the way to church a few weeks ago.
The structure formerly was a TGI Fridays, but it closed during the pandemic and never reopened. It sat vacant, slowly deteriorating over a very long time. Then almost a year ago, a "for sale" sign went up out front. A few months after that the windows were boarded up with plywood. And a few weeks later, a temporary construction fence went up around the building and a large dumpster appeared in the parking lot.
When we recently passed by this building, we noticed that the granite-looking stone and the reflective glass exterior had been removed exposing the metal stud framing. We also spotted two large vinyl banners hanging on that chain-link fence. One indicated who was doing the construction and the other stated the name of the new business that would inhabit the building.
The visual of that old building in the process of transformation to become something new was deeply compelling and I was undone. I could barely speak the rest of the way to church. My heart and mind were still churning as we went into choir rehearsal that morning.
As we prayerfully sang, Lord I Need You, I asked, "What are You saying? Why did that building impact me so much?" And with the voice of a compassionate Father, He reminded me of that middle-of-the-night encounter and reassured me, "I am the God of the process, and that which I have begun, I will complete."
Seeing that building "in process" was poignant imagery. It wasn't some tidy "Before... and After" Instagram post. It was more like a "How it Started - How it's Going" TikTok video. A "Say it without saying it" snapshot revealing the truth that I am still "in process" for one reason. There IS more ahead for me... and for you... for those around you... and for your church.
We are all "in process." Some once full, now depleted. Some active, now desolate. Some "for sale," now purchased. Some with ornate facades, now stripped. Some meticulously landscaped with lush grass and flowering shrubbery, now ornamented with rusty dumpsters and zip-tied chain-link fences. Some jacked up on cinderblocks as new foundations are built and others gutted as they are rewired. Some temporarily reinforced as concrete sets and others, framed out for greater capacity. Some transformations easily seen as we pass by and others, a deep and hidden work, as Natalie Sleeth writes in Hymn of Promise, "unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see."
While analogies like this are often flawed and incomplete, I am mindful that there is beauty found in the anticipation of the "yet-to-be" in each of our lives. And while we actively and intentionally wait on, wait with, and wait in God, perhaps there is an invitation to extend a little grace in our transformation process of becoming more like Christ.
This glory-to-glory propelling springboard of patience, mercy, and kindness that you so desperately want is the same grace that those around you need. And, dare I say, that your church wants and needs. Why? Because there is more. There is more for you. There is more for those around you. And, there is more for your church as that Habakkuk 2:14 promise is fulfilled through all of us, "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God." Indeed, "No eye has ever seen and no ear has ever heard and it has never occurred to the human heart all the things God has prepared for those who love Him" [1 Cor 2:9 VOICE].
So, take a moment. Breathe. Selah.
If you are discouraged with yourself, with those around you, and perhaps, even with your church, know this. The God who woke us up this morning is relentless in kindness, unceasing in faithfulness, tender in compassion, gentle in guidance, intentional in generosity, extravagant in provision, and lavish in love. God is joyfully willing and supremely able to supply us with everything needed for life and for Godliness and the One who began this good work will be faithful to bring it to completion!
I can testify that for me, "in process", particularly over these last 8 years, has looked something like this. The dull-ache-melancholy liturgy of 'I wish I had,' the sting of raw, 'I should have,' and the lingering residue of 'I failed,' is slowly being displaced by a deep and profound sense of gratitude for fresh revelations of God's reckless love, relentless faithfulness, and empowering presence that is enabling me to become everything He sees when He looks at me.
Beloved, as you traverse this "in process" journey, know that you are held in a place of deep affection in God's heart. And in that refuge, you can find deep rest and the sweet assurance that God is watching, protecting, sustaining, providing, and strengthening you for the more that is ahead. And, you know what? There are no divine eye rolls, no heavenly sighs of frustration, and no angelic face-palm whispers of "seriously?" Rather the living reality that "the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore He will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for Him" [Isaiah 30:18 NIV].
Today, may you enjoy the One who enjoys walking with you... and may you rejoice in the One who rejoices over you.
If this blog has been meaningful to you, I invite you to do two things. Subscribe to the blog. You will be one of the first to receive a heads-up via email when a new entry is posted! Then, I invite you to share this blog with your sphere of friends. You never know how God might sustain the weary through a simple word of encouragement.
Did you know that God wants to offer a word that sustains the weary through you? I invite you to watch and listen to this vision-casting message from Habakkuk 2:14, God's Glory through You. I pray that this 46-minute video will open your eyes to some of "the more" that God sees in you and through you.