Process is a hard word for me to hear at times. It always means that waiting on something is warranted. And the times we live in campaign for the opposite of waiting. Often, we don’t like to, nor do we prefer to wait, if at all possible, with the expectation that the quality of whatever is desired remains intact. I am sure this is not just a present-day reality. Most likely it has been propagating throughout every century.
There are so many things that necessitate a process: relationships, pregnancy or gestation of any kind, growing up, raising children, any of the arts from music to painting to theater, gardening, farming, writing, education, life itself with its bodily functions and phases including grief, sports, cooking, grooming, preparation for every profession, ... And I am sure that anybody reading this could add to this list. Then there are the cliches that might make a person cringe because they are said so often, like ‘life is a process’ or ‘you’re in process’ or ‘God is processing you’ or ‘enjoy the process’ or ‘follow the process’ or ‘stick to the process.’ Maybe these cliches are not bothersome to most; it just could be me.
The fact is that many things in life involve a process to reach a particular goal or outcome.
Consider the following list of terms: development, preparation, planning, reproduction, physical growth, maturity, training, technology, manufacturing, construction, government, business, agriculture, athletics, health and fitness, creative processes for the arts and so on and on. Imbedded in each of these terms is the presumption of a process or procedure. (All that is written about just these things would be too much for one person to retain let alone maintain.)
Look at Creation. It definitely was a phenomenal process. God, who spoke everything into existence, could have created everything in one day, but He didn’t. According to Genesis 1, He chose to create everything over 6 days, taking the 7th day as a day of rest. God made everything we would need first before He made mankind. And the same goes with everything else – vegetation, birds, fish, and animals, and even the sun, moon, and stars (which established the reference frame of time with its seasons).
Why are processes necessary?
Why don’t most things happen instantly?
If things happened instantly, what type of people would we be?
These are questions one could ponder, but truthfully, they are rhetorical in nature.
God knows us. He knows what we need. He knows how to get us to where He wants us to be. If everything happened instantly, we probably would be incorrigible and unable to manage anything, which would yield pure chaos and mayhem.
Scripture suggests that we need process because it makes us aware of our true selves and what’s around us. It builds our hope and develops our faith. It matures us in the things that matter to God. It helps us cope with the certain realities of life. It makes us more appreciative. It teaches us contentment. It teaches us perseverance. It teaches us patience and long suffering. It provides us with enjoyment and awe. It teaches us to love. It teaches us humility. It teaches us to extend grace and to have mercy and to be compassionate. It makes our praise and worship of God authentic. It gives us purpose and fulfillment. It prepares us to meet God. We need process.
Now, think about the following prominent people in the Bible:
Adam and Eve … Noah … Abraham … Isaac … Jacob and Esau … Israelites (12 Tribes) … Joseph … Moses … Joshua … Judges … Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz … Samuel … King Saul … David … Solomon … Other Kings … the Prophets … John the Baptist … Jesus Christ, His incarnation, His ministry, His death, His burial, and His resurrection ... The 12 Disciples … Paul. The study of each one plus all those in between would highlight the happenings that each one had to endure and all the people they had to encounter to achieve the purpose or mission that God intended.
Then, there is salvation: promise of a victorious Savior (Genesis 3:15; John 3:16) - prophesy of (Old Testament) - Jesus’ lineage (Matthew 1:1-17) - Jesus’ birth - His childhood - His public ministry - His persecution - His death on the cross - His resurrection - His ascension - the Holy Spirit - His church ... - His second coming. After mankind sinned in the garden, the manifestation of our salvation occurred over an expanse of time. As illustrated before, this was a process, and even now, mankind is still living out the process until our final redemption as believers, when Jesus Christ returns.
Sometimes we can become fixated on the anomalies, with those who seem to bypass a process or two. But make no mistake; anomalies are of course not the norms. We can be sure that we all, anomalies included, are students of the processes of life.
Consider the following passages that echo both the reality and the necessity of the processes of life. Which passages speak the loudest to you? Please share it in the comments.
Life’s mission fulfillment is a process.
Philippians 1:6 (NIV)
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12 (NIV)
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
Hebrews 10:36 (NIV)
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.
Notice here that even sin is a process.
James 1:13-15 (NIV, emphasis added)
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
Restoration is a process.
Ezekiel 37:4-14 (NIV)
4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! 5 This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. 6 I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’ ”
7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. 8 I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.
9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’ ” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to life and stood up on their feet—a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the people of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lordsays: My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. 13 Then you, my people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. 14 I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the Lord.’ ”
Discipleship, persecution, transformation, and maturation are processes.
Psalm 119:71 (NIV)
71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Romans 12:2, 12 (NIV, emphasis added)
2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 5:3–5 (NIV, emphasis added)
3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
James 1:2-4 (NIV, emphasis added)
2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
John 15:7 (NIV):
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Revelation 2:10 (NIV):
10 Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.
Notice the process of happenings that will take place before Christ returns.
Matthew 24:4-14 (NIV)
4 Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. 6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.
9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Process is no longer a bad word to me.
Forgive me for my chagrin with regard to the term, process. Thank you for each and
every process that brings us closer to you and to fulfilling your plans for our lives.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.