COMBONIANUM – Spiritualità e Missione

Blog di FORMAZIONE PERMANENTE MISSIONARIA – Uno sguardo missionario sulla Vita, il Mondo e la Chiesa MISSIONARY ONGOING FORMATION – A missionary look on the life of the world and the church

Learn­ing To Trust The Slow Work Of God

Time is a Nec­es­sary Mer­cy In Becom­ing Like Jesus

Carolyn Arends

My col­league Bri­an and I were dis­cussing the work a pro­mo­tion­al agency was doing to encour­age peo­ple to vis­it arti­cles on Renovaré’s web­site. (Ren­o­varé is a Chris­t­ian spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion orga­ni­za­tion. I serve there as the direc­tor of education.)

“This agency means well,” Bri­an said, ​“but they keep sug­gest­ing head­lines like ​‘Four easy steps to spir­i­tu­al growth.’ If we want to be accu­rate, what we real­ly need is ​‘How to become more like Jesus in 70 chal­leng­ing years.’ “

I laughed, but I knew he was right. The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve become con­vinced of two impor­tant things.

First, it’s tru­ly pos­si­ble for a human being to under­go gen­uine spir­i­tu­al trans­for­ma­tion, evi­denced in tan­gi­ble, pos­i­tive changes in char­ac­ter, behav­iour, and inner peace.

Sec­ond, such trans­for­ma­tion almost always hap­pens at a pace slow­er than we would expect or desire.

Maybe Bri­an and I are both so clear on this because we report to Chris Hall, Renovaré’s pres­i­dent, who is fond of say­ing (quot­ing one of his men­tors James Hous­ton), ​“Spir­i­tu­al for­ma­tion is the slow­est of all human movements.”

It’s not a mes­sage that sells. But it’s the truth.

God is much more patient than we are. As a gen­er­al rule He works incre­men­tal­ly – a shift in per­spec­tive here, a small break­through there, slow­ly enlarg­ing our capac­i­ty to see and receive what He has for us.

Of course, God can and some­times does trans­form peo­ple on the spot. It’s thrilling to hear about folks who are sud­den­ly cured of an addic­tion, or healed of an ail­ment or bur­den in a flash.

And yet, I won­der if even those folks would tes­ti­fy that after the mir­a­cle, it takes a life­time to ful­ly inhab­it the healing.

In his help­ful new book God Walk: Mov­ing at the Speed of Your Soul (Zon­der­van, 2020), Cana­di­an the­olo­gian Mark Buchanan argues, ​“Becom­ing like Jesus doesn’t hap­pen quick­ly for any­one.” And, while he acknowl­edges our trans­for­ma­tion can be ham­pered by our own resis­tance, he also points out the evi­dence sug­gests, ​“God made peo­ple to grow slowly.”

After all, where most ani­mals tran­si­tion from baby­hood to adult­hood in about a year, it takes the aver­age human 18 years (at least) to grow into an adult body.

“As in the phys­i­cal, the emo­tion­al, the intel­lec­tu­al, so in the spir­i­tu­al,” Buchanan writes. ​“We are made to mature at a snail’s pace. Though snails, of course, mature much faster.”

I’ve car­ried two babies to term. Dur­ing many stretch­es (for­give the unfor­tu­nate word choice) of those preg­nan­cies, I longed for time to speed up and the baby to arrive.

And yet, I see clear­ly that the dura­tion of a preg­nan­cy is a nec­es­sary mer­cy. Time is not only required for a new life to devel­op, but also for the mother’s body to accom­mo­date it. If either of my babies had gone from zygote to new­born in a day, my body would have quite lit­er­al­ly exploded.

As in the phys­i­cal, so in the spir­i­tu­al. Is it pos­si­ble God is grow­ing and trans­form­ing us as fast as He pos­si­bly can with­out explod­ing us?

There’s a pas­sage about the patience of God in the third chap­ter of 2 Peter that I love, espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing it’s in a let­ter either writ­ten by, or named for, the most nat­u­ral­ly impa­tient of the disciples.

“Beloved, do not let this one thing escape your notice: With the Lord a day is like a thou­sand years, and a thou­sand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow to ful­fill His promise as some under­stand slow­ness, but is patient with you, not want­i­ng any­one to per­ish, but every­one to come to repen­tance” (2 Peter 3:8 – 9, BSB).

Maybe the Igna­t­ian philoso­pher Pierre Teil­hard de Chardin had 2 Peter in mind when he wrote his poem ​“Patient Trust.”

Above all,” the poem begins, ​“trust in the slow work of God.”

… Give Our Lord the ben­e­fit of believ­ing that his hand is lead­ing you, and accept the anx­i­ety of feel­ing your­self in sus­pense and incomplete.

Let’s not mis­take God’s patience for inac­tiv­i­ty. And let’s remem­ber, in the words of Peter’s friend the Apos­tle Paul, ​“that He who began a good work in you will car­ry it on to com­ple­tion” (Philip­pi­ans 1:6). Even if it takes 70 chal­leng­ing years.

First pub­lished in the Sep/​Oct 2020 edi­tion of Faith Today.

Pho­to by ami­rali mirhashemi­an on Unsplash.


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Questa voce è stata pubblicata il 24/10/2020 da in ENGLISH, Faith and Spirituality con tag , .

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San Daniele Comboni (1831-1881)


Combonianum è stato una pubblicazione interna di condivisione sul carisma di Comboni. Assegnando questo nome al blog, ho voluto far rivivere questo titolo, ricco di storia e patrimonio carismatico.
Il sottotitolo Spiritualità e Missione vuole precisare l’obiettivo del blog: promuovere una spiritualità missionaria.

Combonianum was an internal publication of sharing on Comboni’s charism. By assigning this name to the blog, I wanted to revive this title, rich in history and charismatic heritage.
The subtitle
Spirituality and Mission wants to specify the goal of the blog: to promote a missionary spirituality.

Sono un comboniano affetto da Sla. Ho aperto e continuo a curare questo blog (tramite il puntatore oculare), animato dal desiderio di rimanere in contatto con la vita del mondo e della Chiesa, e di proseguire così il mio piccolo servizio alla missione.
I miei interessi: tematiche missionarie, spiritualità (ho lavorato nella formazione) e temi biblici (ho fatto teologia biblica alla PUG di Roma)

I am a Comboni missionary with ALS. I opened and continue to curate this blog (through the eye pointer), animated by the desire to stay in touch with the life of the world and of the Church, and thus continue my small service to the mission.
My interests: missionary themes, spirituality (I was in charge of formation) and biblical themes (I studied biblical theology at the PUG in Rome)

Manuel João Pereira Correia


Questo blog non rappresenta una testata giornalistica. Immagini, foto e testi sono spesso scaricati da Internet, pertanto chi si ritenesse leso nel diritto d’autore potrà contattare il curatore del blog, che provvederà all’immediata rimozione del materiale oggetto di controversia. Grazie.


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