By Steve Drinkall, Manager, Mission Engagement
Many of us have experiences of having God intervene in our lives to bring positive change, healing, protection, encouragement or even rescue. At different parts of our lives, we have found ourselves in a mess of some kind and have reached out to God asking for him to save us, fix us, help us, rescue us, support us or even heal us. The amazing thing is that on many occasions, God has indeed been gracious to us, and we can give testimony to the way God has worked with us and for us and to the transformation that has come.
My question is, why does God’s work often seem so slow? At the times in my life when I have reached the end of my resources and cried out to God, I have been looking for a quick, if not immediate, fix. I am looking for an answer now, and yet often, in the moment, it seems like God is really dragging the chain and moving too slow. We live in an individualized and immediate culture, and the sometimes slow, wise, healing rhythms of God seem to be distant and even frustrating.
This month I have been reminded of the epic journey out of slavery that the people of Israel experienced as they moved from Egypt to the promised land. The Exodus and subsequent books of the Old Testament tell the story of God hearing the desperate cries of the Israelites as they struggled under the bondage of Pharoah. It tells of God’s great acts in saving them and transitioning them to their very own promised land, a land of safety and abundance and flowing with milk and honey.
The only problem was that the fix was going to take at least 40 years and that most of the community was not going to live through to the end of the story. God was indeed going to do a deep and healing work in this nation, but it was going to happen at a slower pace than the people were expecting. Along the way, they would need to live in the desert for 40 years, and God would meet their needs by providing food for each individual day only and not providing all the resources they would need in advance. God would literally and personally walk the Israelites out of slavery, through the wilderness and into the promised land, all the while just giving them just the grace and resources that they needed for each day of the journey.
There have been a few times in my life when I feel like God has intervened quickly and decisively. On reflection, though, most of the big changes and transformations that have taken place in my life have felt slow and methodical. It is almost as if God is literally and personally walking me out of my mess, through the wilderness and into the promised land, all the while just giving me the grace and resources that I need for each day of the journey.
I have often asked myself, “When will I be free of this problem?” but I now think a better question is, “Is God helping me find my way through this problem?”. Mercifully, I mostly sense that he faithfully is.