“But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.” Luke 8:15
God can instantly do many things for us, but most often, the work of God involves waiting, patience, perseverance, and a span of time. It’s a lot like physical conditioning. We all want a magic pill or some belt to wear while sleeping, when in fact, it actually takes time, perspiration, and intentionality. There are no shortcuts or drive-thru lines with God or for our mid-life bellies. We have to put in the time.
Now that I am in my 40s, I have paid a lot more attention to my health. I exercise six days a week, usually here at home. Most days, I do not feel motivated or excited about the elliptical experience or the weight machine, but out of discipline, I put in the time. I know that if I eat less fried food and more green and orange stuff, I will feel better and live longer. Day by day, week by week, over the course of time, I will feel the benefits, but not always instantly.
As Americans, we tend to lean toward the instant, just-add-water methods of health. We want our fitness like we want our food – packaged and ready right now. In fact, most of us would probably starve to death if our driver’s-side window ever broke. We worship microwaves, but God tends to lean toward marinades.
It is only in the last 50 years that Americans have lost touch with this idea. Our ancestors understood the process of food production and were less bothered when a restaurant actually cooked the food after it was ordered instead of retrieving it from a rack under a heat lamp. Waiting was not seen as a curse; instead, the chasm of time actually allowed people to relax and talk while others cooked and served. It was a treat to get a reprieve from kitchen duty.
The crop Jesus mentioned in the above verse came only after someone had plowed the soil, planted seed, waited patiently for the rain, diligently pulled the weeds, and then was willing to wait patiently for germination. Waiting on the unseen takes faith, and that is exactly why God does not always give us the answer in an instant. He wants us to put in the time and then trust Him when His work is seemingly invisible.
We must allow due time and space for worship, working, and unhurried conversations with those we love. The way to the harvest is most often in a waiting room and less often on a freeway. I cannot guarantee flat bellies for everyone, but I can guarantee that God is always faithful, especially to people who are willing to persevere.