Monday, April 13, 2015

The Process

Ugly, grueling and often times humiliating; these are the words that could describe the process. The process is the progression of events that take place between the beginning of something and the end result. It’s in this space between that dues are paid, bootstraps become frayed and battles must be fought and won in order to press forward.

My father was an artist. He started sculpting when we lived in Alaska, to occupy his mind during the long dark days of winter. One winter he sculpted the scene of Abraham and Isaac. Isaac was tied to a rock, Abraham had his hand lifted in preparation to sacrifice his only son. Behind Abraham whose face was lifted towards heaven, was the ram - the sacrifice that the Lord provided to take Isaacs place.
As a child I remember watching this sculpture come to life.                

The clay comes out of the package and it needs to be softened. Dad would hand me a block to roll into a ball. It kept me busy and kept him in pliable clay.
He would build the rudimentary structure underneath out of wire and sometimes he would use toothpicks. These were the bones of his sculpture. Slabs of clay were layered over these bones, and then he would begin smoothing and shaping.

He had commandeered the kitchen table for this project, so my brothers and I had front row seats. Dad would let us work next to him to make our own sculptures. We would take a ball of clay, roll it out into the shape of a snake, give it eyes then ask Dad to look up, “Is this good?” we’d ask. “Look what I made!”

He’d take a glance and just keep working. We probably made five hundred snakes and disproportioned clown faces in the same amount of time that he made his Abraham and Isaac sculpture. He had a vision and committed himself to the process. The end result was a treasured, meaningful work of art.
Every body can be a beginner, everyone wants to experience the glory, but only the focused and determined heart can endure the process.
This is what we miss out on in a prepackaged, instant success world; we miss out on learning to run with endurance through the process. We miss out accomplishing great things, we settle for less because we fear the process.
Here are some things to think about, that will hopefully keep you going, wherever you are in your process.

1.) Expect the Process
            The Bible tells us it came as quite a shock to the children of Israel upon hearing the report that giants currently occupied their promised land! Then they were told that it was no big deal because God would fight for them and help them to possess the land if they would only trust in Him. No doubt they imagined just walking right in and taking over this land, but God had other plans.
            God knows the dreams and ambitions we have, He also knows how we need to be equipped and how reliant we will need to be upon Him once we arrive. In the book of James he tells us to “Count it all joy when we fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” James 1:2-3 The process is inevitable and necessary if we want to realize Godly success.

2.) Engage in the Process
            I started out in college as a nursing student. I was able to get by my first year, but in the second year it became clear to me that God had other plans for my life. What I didn’t understand about being a nursing student is that you don’t just go to class, take notes then go home. The best nursing students are the ones who stay late in the lab, draw their own anatomy flash cards, sign up for extra courses and work part time in the nursing field as they are going through their course work. These fully immersed students graduate with more than a license to practice nursing they have become excellent nurses.
            It is an act of faith to stop fighting and engage in God’s process. When we have joy and take heart we are showing the world that we trust in God’s plan, we are standing and walking in the belief that He will keep His word. However, sometimes I get so focused on graduating out of the process I forget to take in the education I’m receiving along the way.
             Time and again, when I have come out on the other side of a storm in life I’ve wished to go back and take better notes. It becomes more clear that every trial had it’s purpose and the experiences, good, bad and humiliating were necessary.
In James 1:4 we find this instruction, “But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.”
          I think this is why I love to write so much. It keeps me engaged in the process; it keeps me attentive to the hand of God on my life as He does His perfecting work. Whatever you are going through, don’t miss out on the treasures God is revealing every day.

3.) Endure Through the Process
            Can I remind you of the grand prize for those who finish well? James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”
            Whenever my dad would finish a sculpture he would take a ball of clay, press his thumb into it and fix it onto the back of his work of art. This was his signature, and there was no denying that fat thumbprint belonged to Don Lane. His signature showed that this one-of-a kind work of art was complete and approved by the artist.
            One day I’m going to stand in the presence of Jesus. I’m not going to just roll off of an assembly line at the Christ follower plant to be passed over and inspected by a heavenly factory worker. No, Jesus has been creating me since before I was born. He gave His own life so that mine could be redeemed and made beautiful, into His likeness, used for His divine purpose. He has used many processes to shape, mold and refine me. One day I’ll stand before Him, to receive the crown of life.
            God is calling you to do great things! Don’t trust the process trust Jesus. Hold fast to His word and look forward to one day seeing the fruit of the seeds you will plant today.


1 comment:

  1. "We settle for less because we fear the process." That's so true. The world offers so many "good" things to distract us, and those good things can keep us from reaching for the excellent goal He has for us.