By Rob Tims
I was four years old and riding in the front seat (without my seatbelt) when my mother pulled the car up to the drive thru window. I quickly leaned across her lap and smiled at the lady in the window and said, “I want a cheeseburger and french fries.” She and my mother both laughed at my order because we weren’t at McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King or Backyard Burgers: we were at the bank.
Of course, my mother was also a little embarrassed. Four years of age is a little too young to be so familiar with fast food establishments. But mothers everywhere can testify to the enticing value a fast-food restaurant brings to a mother and child in need of a quick fix to their hunger problem.
In fact, most of the things I buy or consume offer a quick fix. I use a mobile phone because I want to have the conversation now. I have a laptop because I want to write the article now. I order drip coffee because I want the drink now. I choose nonstop flights because I want to get there now. The quicker I can be satisfied, the better.
I often take the same approach when it comes to satisfying a spiritual itch or issue. Maybe I’ll be in a spiritual drought of indifference. Maybe I’ll be suddenly repentant of a gross sin. Maybe I’ll have the sudden urge to see my children saved. Regardless of the motive, when I become fully concscious of a spiritual problem, I demand of God a quick fix.
To be sure, God is capable of such a thing. But the consistent testimony of Scripture is that spiritual formation is a marathon, not a dash. We long for the faith of Abraham, but are we willing to wait decades for God to fulfill His promise? We long for the influence of Joseph, but do we view the multiple injustices we experience with the same faith? We want to be like Moses, but are we willing to wait 80 years before God uses us in a mighty way? We want to be as fervent in our faith as Peter, but are we willing to sit at Jesus’ feet for years and hear teaching that harnesses our passion?
Geniune spiritual formation is anything but a quick fix. We must be willing to experience and endure multiple and significant things that will seem to delay our spiritual maturity, but are actually essential for it.
We might be look for a spiritual drive thru, but God is a master chef, He’s cooking up something much better for us than what we might have in mind.
The question is if we are willing to wait.
Rob Tims is husband to Holly and father to Trey, Jono, Abby Jane and Luke. He’s the author of Southern Fried Faith: Confusing Christ and Culture in the Bible Belt, and manages the team behind smallgroup.com at LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville. He writes regularly at RobTims.com and blogs every Friday at Forward Progress.