Sometimes in our fast paced world it is easy to miss things that are not happening at the same pace as we are going. A while back I skimmed a book called the Jesuit Guide To Almost Everything where the author talked about the danger of missing the slow work of God in our lives. The irony that I skimmed a book talking about the slow work of God is not lost on me.
We forget that sometimes God works fast and sometimes His work takes time. Sometimes there is a miracle healing that happens in an instant. Sometimes Jesus spoke a word and demons left. Moses put his rod in the Red Sea and the waters parted. Our breath is taken away by a field of flowers that seemed to bloom overnight.
Other times God’s work happens over time. Jesus worked with His disciples over the process of years and it seemed at times that they were hardly making any progress. The Israelites crossed the Red Sea and God worked with them for 40 years to get them ready to take the promise land. Like a field of flowers that seems to grow up overnight it is also amazing when you look at an oak tree that takes decades to grow.
Personally it is easier for me to notice the fast work of God. When I see someone get up out of a wheelchair those types of things are hard to forget. What is easy to forget is a simple impression I get when reading my Bible. It is easy for me to remember protection in a car accident. It is harder to see the slow gradual growth He is making in the ministry that I lead.
Since I realize this, I have created simple systems to try and get better at the long game of God’s activity in my life. They are helping me to notice and be encouraged. You may come up with different systems than I use, but I hope that you think about how you are seeing God’s slow work in your life.
Capture and review impressions from God
When I have an impression of God speaking something to me that is more than just for that moment I log that in Evernote. It can come from all the different avenues that God speaks to us but if it doesn’t make sense yet or seems not just for today I type it up. I then tag that note as “word from God” or “word to me”. I then have an email sent to me once a month from www.followupthen.com to take 10 minutes that day and look through all of those notes over time. Kind of nerdy, but it has helped me a lot.
Set aside time for reflection
Two times a year I take some time to look over my Google Calendar for the last 6 months. This helps me better see events and patterns in my life. I do this at the same time as I am preparing for our Christ Connection board meeting so I see patterns for the ministry as well.
Keep track of the simple things
Finally I have two things recently that has helped me with when I read my Bible and pray. For my prayer life adding a list of 100 things that I am praying helps me see work that God is doing in situations that I would otherwise miss. On the Bible front for my 40th birthday I bought myself a Bible with wide margins. Adding dates to my notes when reading helps me see how God is speaking themes to me over time.
Again you may use very different methods than I use, but let me encourage you to make an effort to notice the grace and mercy of God following your life. With some simple practices you may appreciate more of the oak trees of God’s work in your life.