By John W. Hanson
Embrace the Process
He was a grown man squirming in his pew. What would people think? At first he was a little miffed at the preacher for having the gall to be so straight-forward. Then he felt a bit angry with God for allowing things to unfold in his life as they had. Finally he began to feel the guilt and regret (that he was all too comfortable with) as he admitted that so many of his issues were caused or complicated by his own choices.
Now he had a choice to make. The preacher had just likened God to a coach and himself to an assistant coach. He proposed that God takes responsibility for empowering and refining us, but that we needed to be willing to cooperate. He thought about his six year old son whose coach often pushed him and trained him by having him do exercises. As his son cooperated, he became a better player, even though he didn’t always understand what the coach was up to. Did he trust God enough to let Him be his coach?
Thinking back, he realized that God had set him up! God knew he was only human and that he needed some help coming face to face with his issues. It was probably not just coincidence that he had recently encountered an old friend who triggered painful memories of hurt and rejection. The book he was reading and a few scriptures from his devotional reading had also nudged him to take a fresh look at the need to forgive people and accept forgiveness for himself. Everything was priming him for this moment; this opportunity to walk to the front of his church and cry out to God as others ministered to him.
As the minister asked everyone to stand, his attention was drawn back to the minister who was now comparing God to the good shepherd who is trying to move his sheep to new pastures – higher dimensions of living. He had to admit, there were many Bible stories in which God did that very thing. In fact the Bible talks about God refining us as silver is refined in the fire. Maybe his recent struggles were doing a good work in his heart. The process was definitely helping him to be honest with himself. And with God, there was hope.
As the music began to play, he felt that familiar and wonderful sense of God’s presence. God was so patient and kind. He didn’t feel condemned; just challenged. He also felt reminded of the many times he had bravely stepped out before. God was always so encouraging, and he had never regretted any advances he had made as a result of God’s prompting. Suddenly it dawned on him: he was not on trial… this was not a guilt-driven emotional collapse… this was an opportunity to let God help him rise above his past and experience more love, joy and peace. The choice was obvious – He needed to step out and embrace the process.