The Short-Term Over the Long Haul

I resonate with this:

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…mostly with my kids, but really in other areas of my life as well.  I used to believe that effort=instantaneous, favorable results.  But, this is not how it is.  Sometimes effort produces little to no results.  Sometimes effort is misdirected.  And sometimes the results are there, but we do not see their incremental disclosure.  Kind of like a slow leak, or put in a more positive way, a slow but steady-building savings account.

Ministry is like this.

Parenting is like this.

Professional development is like this.

Life is like this.

The American Idol, 30-billion dollar Jackpot lottery, “Gone-Viral,” and Instaeverything world in which we live gives us a false sense of top-of-the-ladder entitlement as if life should be handed to us on a silver platter.  No matter how far we have come, or how developed our minds and abilities, we will have to put the elbow grease in as a bunch of “nobodies.”  The majority of us will have to start at the bottom with different advantages and disadvantages, and the only way we will see results for our efforts is time and long, hard solid work.  Some call this capitalism.  I call it reality.

This is my point.  I am often impatient.  In the words of Dahl’s bratty, Veruca Salt, “I want it NOW!”  I want kids who love Jesus NOW!  I want this or that career opportunity NOW!  I want to be a better wife, mom, financial steward, writer, organizer, friend, neighbor…fill-in-the-blank NOW!”  My desire for results often precedes the time I actually put into my efforts, though.  Follow me?  In other words, I passionately know what I want to do, see, and become, but if seeing is believing then my faith may be getting weak.

Because we fail and others do as well.

Because life is more about the journey than about results.

Because God is more concerned about us looking like Jesus than earthly rewards.

Because even the beautiful things are broken.

So instead of aiming for the immediate, we should be looking ahead to the finish line, recognizing that the path will be more like a winding road than a straight shot to victory.  We may stumble, sprain an ankle, or slow down along the way.  We will get a second wind, though, and discover new found strength, while learning more about God, the world, and ourselves.  This doesn’t happen before we are 25 years old.  This happens over the long-haul.  It is called wisdom.

Time will do this to us.  Seasons of change, failures, opportunities, relationships, births, deaths, conflicts, milestones, and hindsight (always 20/20. always.) will shape us.  Some of us will have many difficult valleys to trudge on the journey, while others may only have a few.  The valleys will not determine our outlook on life, though.  Our disposition and entire faith rest completely on our fellowship with God.  This is why I cling to God’s Word.  This is why I pray.  Not to earn God’s favor.  Not to sound smart or holy.  But because my very life depends upon it.  Want to know God?  Study His Word.  It will take more than a week, though.  It will take more than a year.  It will take years.  Oh, but you will know Him better in a matter of moments.  He is not far that He cannot be reached.  He is in our homes and in our very hearts as believers.

We cannot expect in the short-term what can be only realized in the long run.  As the saying goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and your faith and mine won’t be either.  But it is in the short-term dedication, discipline, and devotion over the long haul that we will eventually see fruit that will last.  We cannot get bogged down in the details of our lives.  We cannot grow impatient with our circumstances and with ourselves.  We cease striving and know that He is God and will carry us on the journey.  So, twenty-somethings, thirty-somethings, tweens, teens, and everyone in-between- rest in God.  He isn’t asking you to make anything of yourself.  He is making much of Himself in you.  He is the one who works in you to will and to work for HIS good pleasure (see Philippians 2:13).  So, steady and onward, look to Christ, and don’t expect much right now, but believe that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.  God is not a quitter.  He always finishes what He starts, and He is beginning something great in you over the long haul.

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