We live in an instant society. We love fast food and quick fixes. One of the reasons I stream Netflix is so my family can watch some television shows without the annoyance or interruption of commercials. Let’s get to the show already! There are some areas in life when “instant” works. It’s good that we can generally receive a mailed package within a couple days of delivery. It is good that we can pick of the phone and immediately connect to a best friend, ailing parent, or child who is in need of help.
But there is one place in our life where instant and quick fixes just doesn’t work…
and that is our spiritual development.
Pastors, scholars, and theologians often use big words when presenting the change that takes place once a person accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior. Because of Christ, we are justified and sanctified. Justification simply means that we are made right, or put in right standing in terms of our relationship or connection to God. Sanctification means that we have been set apart, or made pure and holy, for God’s good purposes. So what Christ does through our salvation is set us up and send us out. This happens immediately upon our acknowledgement and acceptance of Christ as our Savior.
However, God divinely orchestrates many life experiences to bring a person to that point of decision. The Holy Spirit may draw a person over a long period of time before they ever understand the right words to say or set their feet inside the four walls of a church. We simply do not know exactly how God works to change the hearts of those who are lost. Their first encounter with Christ may be with a co-worker, a smile in the grocery store line, or a child’s play date which leads to coffee and conversation. We should be alert and attentive to the possibility of these divine appointments.
When seeing people and considering the metaphor of their souls as fields that are awaiting harvest, we can discern where to plant the next seeds or water where others have already planted. I’m not much of a gardener. Although I love flesh flowers, I don’t plant regularly because they are not a priority in my life. I don’t like the maintenance, often forget to water, and certainly have more important things to do than pulling and killing weeds. Besides that, the entire process can be costly. Gardening is just hard work. Upon completion, however, we enjoy beautiful flowers that continue to bloom throughout the season and are often so thankful that we did.
On a grander scale, loving people and caring for their souls is much like gardening. If we avail ourselves, the Holy Spirit uses us as tools to offer hope to those who are lost and bring life to dead situations. We pull weeds, invest time and resources—we nurture. Then we continue to water and watch as people grow and their lives change. Mentoring is not something that can be done in an instant. It often requires a long-term commitment. Be discerning. Be committed. Be slow and steady.
What has your recent mentoring experiences been like? Have you had any positive surprises from God? Maybe a disappointment or two? How might God be growing and shaping you through the mentoring process?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014