As someone who “measures” quite often, progress is important to me. I would probably even say I am addicted to it. Nothing frustrates me more than to get stuck and cease to move forward in life. I know mistakes are inevitable, but I certainly want to make the most of them by learning all I can so that next time, I am better prepared.
I suppose it is my perfectionism or my goal-oriented personality. Regardless, progress matters to me and I am encouraged whenever I see it.
Recently, as I was sitting on my yellow couch where I have my time with the Lord, I looked out my large plate glass window to see the new, light green spring leaves growing from what had looked like a bunch of dead trees just a few weeks prior.
What a difference time makes! What a difference God makes! Where there appeared no life before, now there is full evidence of life anew. Progress!
This illustration of growth, from new seasons outside my window, was brought to my mind as I read Joshua 2. It is the familiar story of Rahab and the spies.
It is my tendency to immediately compare this story of spies to the previous story of spies described back in Numbers 13. It involves one of the original people from 40 years prior.
Joshua was one of only two, of the original 12 spies, sent in to explore and report back about the promised land that gave a favorable report. He and Caleb were not intimidated by the powerful people, nor their fortified cities. They were confident that God would provide, prevailing against their foes and any other obstacle on their behalf.
We remember that except for Moses, all the rest of the spies and the Israelites, gave way to fear and intimidation, thereby refusing to go in to the promised land. They assumed failure and inability to conquer and overcome. They gave up. They gave way to despair.
That is the real temptationton; to give up by the looks of things.
By the looks of the promised land, it seemed impossible. By the looks of the trees from winter in my backyard, it seemed lifeless. But oh how progress can be made!
When Joshua sends in two spies to look over the land, especially Jericho, they come back to him in Joshua 2:24. “They said to Joshua, ‘The LORD has surely given the whole land into our hands; all the people are melting in fear of us.'” The people respond in faith to their report and later in Joshua 6, they march in to take Jericho just as the LORD had commanded.
Whereas 40 years prior, only Joshua and Caleb had reported that they could certainly take the promised land, the rest of the spies and unbelieving Israelites were left to die off in the desert for the rebellion. Now the Israelites have their “do-over” and thankfully, lessons were learned! Before they had responded in unbelief, now they moved forward in faith. Progress!
Their progress, coupled with the progress of spring trees out my window, remind me of what I see in my own family. In 2016, I have see much change and growth in certain situations and people. Progress long waited and needed. Progress prayed for earnestly. And just as dead and impossible as the winter trees and Israelites exampled, through time and lessons learned, life has changed. People have changed. I have changed.
Progress has been made and it is ONLY by the grace of God. Luke 18: 27 says that what is impossible with man is possible with God, and I believe it! I see the growth, the difference, and it can only be explained by God. What we were powerless to accomplish, He has! This gives me much encouragement and I am swift to worship Him because of it. I know how progress has come. I know Who deserves all the thanksgiving.
It highlights the importance of patience and perseverance though. Had we given up, progress would not have come. As we wait, not giving way to the looks of things, and by applying the hard lessons learned along the way, change comes. Life springs forth from what seemed dead and impossible. We are anew! Transformed yet again, into the image of our Savior!
Does that mean all is perfect with nothing else needed? No. We are each a work in progress with the Lord in my family and continually waiting for “something”. But today, I will linger in worship, as I see progress all around me; whether in nature, or in the Israelites, or in my family.
What about you? Are you seeing progress in your life…..or are you still waiting? Resist the temptation to give up by the looks of things. Remember the Power behind all progress. God is at work continuously and He is with you each step of the way or in each minute you wait. Change will come, just as springtime from winter. So as you see all the leaves growing and the flowers blooming, remember, change is coming for you too.