No one has ever described me as a yard guy. No one has ever come to me to ask for gardening advice. I have never been described as having a green thumb. Now, you might describe Sarah that way, but definitely not me. When Sarah and I bought our first house I in Kansas City it had a yard…but I did not have a lawn mower. I didn’t have a garage to store a lawn mower either…so I found some local kid to mow my grass for me. One less thing to worry about. We moved here in the late fall almost two years ago and the grass had gone dormant so I didn’t need to mow for months. After nearly half a year of living here and not needing to mow the yard, I started to think maybe Florida grass never grows and I will never have to buy a mower. It wasn’t until spring did my grass start to show signs of growth. I had been an adult for 2 decades, a homeowner twice, and married for 16 years, but after 6 months of living here I realized it was finally time. I broke down and bought a lawn mower.
Now, I like a good looking yard…even though I have no idea how to get there…so I cut my grass as short as it could go so I didn’t have to mow it often and it looks sharp like a clean shaved face. After I cut it back it took forever to grow again and it didn’t look great. After doing this for over a year and not being pleased with my yard I finally started asking around what I was doing wrong. It turns out, unless you have fancy grass that they use on putting greens, your grass needs to grow and grow longer. Letting it grow out and keeping it at a longer length helps it stay fuller and spread to areas that are dead or need grass to grow. Then when you cut it, you don’t chop it back to a buzzed height, but you leave it longer. Again, not a yard guy, this is what people told me to do. Here is what I realized. Letting it grow long doesn’t mean we’re not caring for it. Letting it be a longer length still requires us to tend to it regularly. We just have to care for it regularly, but give it space to grow.
I think the same is true with us and our faith. We tend to want to deal with our faith as if it is something we can do deep dives or major investments and then be good for a while. Like go to church on Christmas or Easter or go on a retreat or a mission trip and have the idea that, “I should be good for awhile”. Or we think, “I haven’t really done anything related to my faith in awhile…maybe I can make up for it in one really long bible study”. This is the equivalent to trying to make up for years of not flossing or brushing your teeth in one setting. It is good, it is not a waste, but the daily investment is the better option. Slow and steady.
Following Jesus is waiting patiently, while also seeking him daily. It is turning your life to him each and everyday, while also giving space and letting him take his time.
In Psalm 40, David writes, I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
David didn’t do nothing. He waited. Patiently. He cried out to God regularly. And after waiting patiently, God responded to his cry. God made his path secure. God gave David a new song to sing. And it wasn’t just David who benefitted from that. It says, many will benefit. Many will put their trust in the Lord because of our faithful patient persistence. Our waiting and patience is not in vain. While at the same time it is not absent of daily intentionality.
Friedrich Nietzsche, an 1800’s philosopher and often antagonist to the Judeo-Christian faith once said,
“The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”
A life of faith, following after Jesus is a slow and steady long obedience in the same direction. It is tending to that relationship daily over a lifetime and not only will we experience rescue, others will see and know…which in the long run, has made life worth living.
Our yard isn’t amazing now…but it looks way better. Dead spots have started to fill in. It is more full and lush. That only happened because we were intentional about our yard, we started to make sure it got what it needed, it had time and space to grow and we didn’t just try to solve the problem over night. This week, let us be people who are patient in our waiting on the Lord. People who are consistent in our turning to and trusting in Him. Some time from now, our lives will look different. Areas that feel dead or forgotten may come to life. Relationships will likely be more full. The fruit that we bear will be evident because of the time we have spent in faithful obedience to the one who created us, redeems us, and sustains us. And who knows who’s life will be changed, who will trust in the Lord because of our patience.
Be patient. Be persistent. Be obedient.