For years I have used the classic of Christian devotion MyUtmost For His Highest in my daily quiet time. It is a deep book that challenges me. Today, as I read, again, my old friend brought a challenge to me. This quote stood out to me today, even though I am sure I have read it before. “It is the process not the outcome that is gloryifying to God”.
This reminded me of our recent mission trip to Memphis. I love taking teens on trips. I love watching them serve and get stretched. It is a pleasure to see them discover new things about the world and themseveles.
This year we worked in the inner city of Memphis. Poverty was all around us. Violence was prevelent. For some of the teens on our trip, all of this was a very new experience. I watched as they tried to process what they were seeing. I watched as inner city children stole their hearts. After just a week, so many of our students were broken before God thanking Him for His grace in their own lives while struggling to understand why the children they had come to love live in such a world of despair.
On Friday, I sat on a seat in the church van next to one of our students. He was quiet at first as tears formed in his eyes. I put my arm around him and he began to sob. Through his tears I heard him say, “I have grown so much this week.” He had. I watched him go from shy and standoffish with the children to loving and playful. He shared Jesus bodly with them while also reminding them that he loved them as well. He was living proof of the process God brings us through. He grew a lot that week and through that process God was glorified.
You see we didn’t see any first ttime decisions on our team. That can be discouraging when you are serving on mission trips. But like our student we saw God’s process worked out in the lives of the children of Memphis. Children like MJ. MJ was a hard faced five year old. When we first met him he had a scowl on his face and didn’t want to get to close to us. God placed him on our team’s heart and day by day God’s process insued. By Friday MJ had changed. He was smiling. He was certain of two things and was quick to tell you that Jesus loves him and that we love him. He did not pray to receive Christ but God was glorified in the process of softening his heart. In that process he burdened our team’s hearts and changed us.
So often we go through life with our own agenda. We try to see an end to each phase of our lives. The important thing for us to remember as Christians is that sanctification is a process. Every growth pain, every triumph is part of a greater picture God is painting in our lives. It will not be complete until we are glorified with God in Heaven. God’s glory, however, is present in every aspect of our journey. He is glorified in the process that draws us into a deeper relationship with Him. Sometimes that causes us pain. Sometimes that gives us a joyful heart. Either way, because it is part of the process of Him making us more like He is, God is glorified in it.
I pray that the next time I search for the end of what God is doing in my life I will be reminded that the end comes in Heaven and that my duty is to discover God’s glory in the process of my own santification. I pray that I resist grumbling and questioning and embrace the work that God is doing. I pray that you will do the same. May we see the glory of God in the process.