Thursday, May 01, 2008


Several different things today have reminded me of one of the major facets of "Grace Roots" that the Lord has revealed to me in the past few years. It has to do with becoming established in grace and growing in grace - and taking all the time in the world that is needed. In other words, not forcing growth, but becoming firmly and solidly established in the fertile soil of grace, and growing in grace over the period of a lifetime.

Some examples from today:

-I read at least two or three different blog posts today about resting (in Christ) and slowing down.

-My wife bought some tulips the other day, but they are still inside the house. (We've had a heck of a time getting consistently warm weather in April). My kids and I were looking at the tulips this morning, and we noticed how they looked a little different than they did yesterday morning, but not dramatically different.

-In my personal thinking today, my thoughts have progressed naturally to thinking about slow growth in the Christian life rather than striving to experience everything so quickly. At one point in my thinking, I came up to a stop sign. On the other side of the road was a driveway to a business with a sign that stuck out to me. It simply said, "Slow."

-Ha! I just got done writing the above examples and I went upstairs for a moment. My wife showed me some of my son's school work in which he was having some problems. On a certain reading comprehension test, he scored only 40%. (He got at least 80% on the other tests). On this particular test his teacher wrote the words, "Slow down." :)
We're in such a hurry these days. We're so focused on just getting things done or accomplished. We're so focused on the final product. We're so very results-oriented.

We're very focused on arriving, but we're not so thrilled with the journey. And yet the journey is the major part of the experience!

And so we live very dysfunctional and very dissatisfied Christian lives... and we may not even realize why. So many times I think it's because we don't see the worth in the day by day, moment by moment journey. We want God to do this now and we want God to show us that now, and while yearning for all these various miraculous 'manifestations' of God, we become less and less aware of His actual presence right now! We want miracles and we want fixes to our problems, and we want to experience victory in our Christian lives, and while those may not always be bad things to desire or to seek God about, our obsession with those things - even if they seem to be things of God - may actually be keeping us from enjoying His actual presence in the now!

Perhaps we haven't yet learned what the Apostle Paul had learned - to be content no matter what the situation. In today's "gospel," if we're hungry God will always make our stomachs full. If we're sick, God will always heal us. If we're naked, God will always clothe us. If we don't have much, we expect God to turn things around and make us plentiful.

But the secret Paul had learned went like this: "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength." (Phil 4:11-13) (The Philippians had indeed sent aid to him, but as we read his account, it wasn't his need being met that he was concerned with. He was simply happy that his troubles had provided an opportunity for them to show their concern for him).

I've digressed a little bit here, but the point is that we're so focused on obvious signs of growth and obvious signs that God is providing for us, that we miss the simplicity that is in Christ and we miss the joy of being content no matter what our state and we miss the joy of knowing that no matter what our life's condition is in, we can do all things through CHRIST.

This gets me back to slow growth in the Christian life. Perhaps some of us are always seeking but rarely finding because we're looking for the wrong things. Perhaps we're wanting to grow in experiences and manifestations, when God really wants us to grow in knowing Him despite what we see or experience.

This type of growth is slow, that's for sure! But it's a wonderful growing experience, because it's a matter of getting our roots firmly established in Jesus Christ ("rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith" - Col 2:7). To be like the palm tree or the cedar of Lebanon mentioned in Psalm 92 (see third link below), it takes time.

In the past I've written on slow, deeply rooted growth several times. Here are a few links:

Slow cooker or Microwave (this post actually links to a few other things I've written on slow growth).

Grace Roots (this is one of my original posts in which I explained 'Grace Roots,' and how the Lord had been slowly revealing to me what it is about).

Established and growing in grace (four core verses).


  1. Joel,

    Your post helped me to slow down (in the emotional level). For past couple of days I was thinking of writing a post concerning the little things in life, the things we take for granted. Your post encouraged me to write that soon.

  2. Great post, Joel. It's so easy for me to forget this. I find myself constantly looking for signs of growth. I'm slowly learning to quit all the introspection. All I ever find is failure. To embrace the Grace of God, you have to let go of all of that. Which is scary.

    I've been listening to the song "I have decided" by Amy Grant that you have on your myspace. It's very encouraging. It's so funny because you expect the song to say I have decided to never do this or to start following these rules...but instead she says, "Being good is just a fable, I just can't 'cuz I'm not able."

    Extreme Grace is for the saved. Because of the work of God's own Spirit the saved need no rules or control. They are led by the Spirit of Christ. They do not follow men or mens expectations.

  3. Bino... I look forward to that blog post. I've been reminded of the same thing lately, that we take so many little things for granted, and in doing so we miss out on the fullness of life in Christ.

    Matthew... Introspection has proven to me to be a lose-lose situation. That is, the type of introspection that is self-focused rather than Christ-in-me focused. I'll either find self-righteousness or failure. In my case, it's the same as what you're saying. I find more failure than anything else. But the reality of grace melts all that away. Indeed, it's scary because we've been trained all our lives, and the world (both in the church and in the 'world') continues to train us to focus on our 'selves,' and our performance.

    I like the Amy Grant song too. I believe it was written by Michael Card. He also performed the song.