by Robyn Ferradas
How do you view progress in life? If you’re anything like me, you expect results to happen pretty quickly – especially if you’re putting in the hard work. We’re taught that hard work pays off, and that if we just do our best, good things will happen. And while I do believe there is some truth related to strong work ethic bringing good results, I don’t believe it is always true. Ask a small business owner who has invested her blood, sweat, and tears into her shop, only to have it close down a few years later. Ask a mom who has faithfully raised her child in the Lord and parented well, only to see that child walk down a path of destruction as a teenager. Ask anyone who has worked for a company for years, and has then been passed over for a well-deserved promotion. Yes, in life, even if we work hard, are focused and dedicated, and walk closely with the Lord, progress may not happen as we quite imagined it would.
But are the “results” we expect, truly the point of the hard work? And are our expectations even realistic? Isaiah 55:8 states, “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways,’ declares the Lord.” Perhaps part of the process within our progress, is learning to plod forward without dwelling on the “should haves” of the past, and trusting in what the Lord would have for us. Maybe it’s more about learning to understand that God has the best plan, and that maybe life is actually about how these circumstances in life grow us and make us more like Him. Often we’re looking for a particular end result and planning the easiest route to get there, when really, God is planning what will be BEST for us. This does not mean we should not work hard; rather, we should do our work “unto the Lord” and trust Him with the outcome.
And who knows, maybe a small business closing down allows for that woman to enter into a new season of ministry. Could it be that the struggle a mother faces with a wayward child could be used later to support and comfort a friend experiencing something similar? Or perhaps the trial of being passed over for a promotion, and yet remaining faithful to work hard in the company anyway, demonstrates a true example of humility to co-workers who may be watching. Maybe “progress” just doesn’t always look the way we initially imagined.
To me, this is the message behind September’s sign of the month, a quote by President Abraham Lincoln, a faithful man of God: “I’m a slow walker, but I never walk back.” We can never fully know God’s plan, but we can completely trust that He is directing our paths, and enabling us to walk forward in faith without dwelling on the past. The walking might feel slow at times, and we may wonder what’s around the corner. But we don’t need to doubt, or question, or walk backwards. We just have to trust Him with the process.