I’m sitting out on a deck near Suquamish, Washington, a few miles northwest of Seattle.
It’s 5:50 a.m., and a grey squirrel is chattering at me. You can see a sailboat cutting across the cloud-mirrored lake.
The sunrise washes everything in a fresh light that slowly wakens the forest around us. There are so many birds singing and chirping, I’ve stopped counting because, at 15, they started to overlap and blend.
It’s July 10. I just checked my weather app — It will reach 93 degrees this afternoon in Garland, where we live.
Here in the Suquamish forest — it may hit 68 by 5:00 p.m.
This is our time to breathe after a time of ministry, for which we had been preparing for several months. Lauren and I try to schedule a time to relax following a major ministry “push.” It refreshes us, and reminds us of our need for the Lord. We can’t do this on our own.
Plus, it’s beautiful. And symphonic (those birds!). And it provides time to reflect.
I was performing some of my characters on this just-completed tour. One of them, the Apostle Paul, comments on his immediate post-conversion experience: “I had so much to learn. And I did. But learning isn’t wisdom. Wisdom takes time.”
We can’t rush the things that are important. There’s no shortcut to wisdom. Wisdom requires trial and error. Success and failure.
The good news is, wisdom requires no talent at all. Anyone can acquire wisdom (James 1:5). But it isn’t automatic. Wisdom requires discipline — twin disciplines, in fact. We must fear the Lord, and we must obey Him.
Oh yes – and we need to keep doing it.
That’s where most of us come off the rails. Not that we don’t make an attempt. We do — but it’s the blasted inconsistency of our daily walk. The frustrating regularity of our failures. The halting, incremental growth of fruit on our spiritual vine, which denies us the adrenal rush we crave.
And we want to give up the quest for something more immediately satisfying – like our favorite TV show!
But the essence of faithfulness is sticking with it — trusting that God’s timetable for our growth is not measured in days or weeks, or even in years. It’s measured in decades. Do a little character study of some of the great ones listed in the “hall of faith” in Hebrews 11. Not one of them enjoyed a meteoric rise to spiritual maturity.
Like the forest around me, it takes a long time to grow a beautiful life.
When you’ve stuck with it for a while, something unexpected happens — you start developing a love for God and for your neighbor that goes deeper than pleasure and that doesn’t rely on circumstance. It begins to take on the character of the One who loves.
There’s a whiff of unconditionality about it.
And that takes time.
Wherever you are, you have all the time there is. It just depends on how you invest it.
Did I mention that there’s no TV here?