Easter and Slow Growth

Easter and Slow Growth

John Haralson   •   April 19, 2017

This post is part of a series on becoming a people of prayer. During the season of Lent, the leadership at Grace invited our congregation into committing to morning and evening prayer using the prayer book Seeking God’s Face in the morning and the Prayer of Examen in the evening.

The “Angel Oak”, near Charleston, South Carolina

Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Galatians 6:8-9

Dear Friends,

On Palm Sunday, my wife and I had the privilege of worshiping with First AME Church. It was a wonderful experience for many reasons. One of the things that stood out to me is that their congregation’s average age is much older than ours. This means that most of their people have been walking with the Lord for a long time. When I shook one woman’s hand after the service, she proudly said to me:          
          “Now, you can tell someone that you shook the hand of a 103-year old today!”

It was encouraging and edifying to get to know some of their folks a little bit better. We heard stories of 65-year long marriages (and another one that was a mere 40 years), stories of loss and hardship (death, job loss, racial discrimination), and stories of new found joys (one “newlywed” man we met was 81 years old!). Through it all, the people we talked to had a deep sense of God’s goodness and faithfulness to them. 

This kind of spiritual fruit is a wonder to behold. It’s also the kind of fruit that grows slowly over a lifetime. God works steadily and faithfully in our lives, but his work takes years, even decades to come into fruition.

This past Lent, the leaders at Grace invited you to join us in committing to morning and evening prayer. I hope you have been able to join us. If you have, perhaps you have noticed a perceptible change in your life. However, perhaps you have not. A wise man once said to me:
          “Measure your spiritual progress from one Lent to the next.”

In other words, he was telling me to expect God to work change in my life, but to have a much longer time frame than generally like to use. So, it’s possible that you’ve given yourself to more regular rhythms of daily prayer, but your life hasn’t been utterly transformed. You still have the same erratic and sometimes damaging mood swings and  you still crumble under the same kinds of temptations. That’s OK. My advice to you would be to keep at it. Keep giving yourself to the Lord and trust that, over time, he will slowly and, at times, imperceptibly, continue to grow his new life in you and through you. 

God is always faithful and kind to us, but he doesn’t seem to be in as big of a hurry as we are. 

Warmly in Christ,

PS The leadership community at Grace will continue the practice of morning and evening prayer throughout the year. Please join us in this practice. Better yet, join with a friend in committing to it.