There are no shortcuts to maturity. It takes years for us to grow into adulthood, and it takes a full season for fruit to mature and ripen. The same is true for the fruit of the Spirit as well. When you try to ripen fruit quickly, it loses its flavour. In the Northern part of Nigeria, tomatoes are usually picked unripened so they won’t bruise during shipping to other parts of the county and even with that some still gets bruised. The bruised ones are sold off at a giveaway price and they are referred to as “Esha tomatoes” in the Yoruba language.
While we worry about how fast we grow, God, on the other hand, is concerned about how strong we grow. He views our lives from and for eternity, so he is never in a hurry. Today, we are obsessed with speed, but God is more interested in strength and stability than swiftness.
We want the quick fix, the shortcuts, the on the spot solution. We want a sermon, a seminar, or an experience that will instantly resolve all problems, remove all temptation, and release us from all growing pain. How ridiculous it sounds right? Yeah.
The truth is, real maturity is never resulted of a single experience, no matter how powerful or moving. Growth is gradual. The Bible says, ” Our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.
Why does it take so long for things to change you may ask? We are slow learners. We often have to relearn a lesson forty or fifty times to really get it😊. The problem keeps recurring, and we think, “Not again! I’ve already learned that!” but that isn’t always the case and of course God knows better.
Secondly, we have a lot to unlearn: Many people go to a counsellor with a personal or relational problem that took years to develop and say, ” I need you to fix me. I’ve got an hour”. How possible is that? They naively expect a quick solution to a long-standing, deep-rooted difficulty.
Since most of our problems and all our bad habits didn’t develop overnight, it’s unrealistic to expect them to go away immediately. There is no pill, prayer, or principle that will instantly undo the damage of many years. It requires the hard work of removal and replacement. I believe the Bible calls it ” taking off the old self” and ” putting on the new self”.
You can not desire a brand new nature and still have your old habits, patterns, and practices that need to be removed and replaced.
Thirdly, we are afraid to humbly face the truth about ourselves: The truth will set us free but it often makes us miserable at first. The fear of what we might discover if we honestly faced our character defects keeps us living in the prison of denial. Only as God is allowed to shine the light of his truth on our faults, failures, and hang-ups can we begin to work on them? This is why we cannot grow without a humble, teachable attitude.
Lastly, growth is painful and dreadful. There’s no growth without fear or loss, and there’s no loss without pain. Every change involves a loss of some kind. You must let go of old ways in order to experience the new. We fear losses, even if our old ways were self-defeating, because, like a worn out pair of shoes, they were least comfortable and familiar.
People often build their identity around their defects. We say things like, ” It’s just like me to be…” and “It’s just the way I am, I can’t help it”. The unconscious worry is that if I let go of my habit, my hurt, or even my hang-ups, who will I be? This fear can definitely slow us down and our growth as well.
Don’t always be in a hurry. Believe God is working in your life even if you don’t feel it. Spiritual and physical growth is sometimes tedious work. Take it one step at a time and expect gradual improvement. It’s fine to pray for a miracle, but don’t be disappointed if the answer comes through a gradual change.
Be patient with God, be patient with yourself, remember how far you’ve come and how far you have to go. God isn’t finished with you yet. Even the snail reached the ark by persevering.
God bless you.
Grace and Blessings
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