For those with young children, life goes by at an absolute blur. Between raising children, school, school activities, other activities, jobs—there’s just not enough time, energy, or anything else! You make it through the day only to have to get up and do it all over again tomorrow. There is, of course, that occasional break when you finally get the opportunity to slow down and catch your breath—but it doesn’t come often and it doesn’t last long.
During one of those moments, it’s easy to assess your life and come to the conclusion that you’re just spinning your wheels in terms of spiritual growth. Sure, you’re doing important things—providing for your family, teaching them about the Lord, and whatever else you can squeeze into your schedule. But the monotony of it, the sameness of the routine can make it seem as though you are just treading water (even though you’re providing a ton of services for everybody).
At these times, time in God’s word and prayer time can easily fall by the wayside because it doesn’t seem like they’re working—so why waste your precious time on them? Other spiritual disciplines can suffer as well for the same reason. It all seems like such a struggle (and the truth is, at times it is). And while all of this may be the appearance of things, I can assure you it’s not the reality.
The reality is, each day is like putting one foot in front of the other. Right now, you’re just going over one small hill after another so when you glance back the terrain always looks the same. Let me assure you you’re not only moving—you’re making progress. One day, you’ll clear those hills, look back and realized you’ve traveled quite a distance.
But there’s more to be said here. We mustn’t fall into the trap of thinking that all of this comes about because we hang in there (although that’s certainly involved). The bigger truth is it happens because God hangs in there with us. Eugene Peterson says this in his A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:
God sticks to His relationship. He establishes a personal relationship with us and stays with it. The central reality for Christians is the personal, unalterable, persevering commitment that God makes to us. Perseverance is not the result of our determination, it is the result of God’s faithfulness. We survive in the way not because we have extraordinary stamina but because God is righteous.
Christian discipleship is a process of paying more and more attention to God’s righteousness and less and less attention to our own; finding the meaning of our lives not by probing our moods, motives, and morals, but by believing in God’s will and purposes; making a map of the faithfulness of God, not charting the rise and fall of our enthusiasms. It is out of such a reality that we acquire perseverance.
So ignore the tyranny of immediate results that our culture calls for. Be content to keep moving ahead one step at a time and rejoice in the faithfulness of your Father. It may be seedtime now, but the harvest will come. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised (Hebrews 6:10-12).