Joni talks about how, like the slow growth of a tree, God's grace may sometimes move slowly.
Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada with some great encouragement for you today.
It’s what I love doing on Joni and Friends. And I find that the smallest, seemingly insignificant things can provide strength to my heart. It happened just the other day: my friend, Greg, sent me a photo of a California bristlecone pine – this ancient tree has patiently weathered the wind, the wet, thunder and lightning. Curiously, bristlecone pines such as this one only grow in high altitudes (it’s like it loves a harsh climate or something). This tree is battered, and some would say ugly (although I don’t see that), but I think it's twisting trunk and up-stretched branches add to its bruised beauty. This particular bristlecone is fiercely protected. It’s nicknamed Methuselah (after the longest-lived person in the Bible) and it is located in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of eastern California. However, now get this, its precise location is undisclosed by the U.S. Forest Service in order to protect that tree from vandalism. The age of this particular bristlecone was measured in 1957 to be 4,789 years old. Wow…
Well, I just sat and looked at the photo of this remarkable tree for the longest time – and as I studied it, I was amazed to think how very slowly it grows. It made me think of this quote by Fredrick Faber. He wrote:
"In the spiritual life God chooses to try our patience first of all by His slowness. He is slow: we are swift and precipitate. It is because we are but for a time, and He has been for eternity. Thus grace, for the most part, acts slowly. He works little by little. Sweetly and strongly He compasses His ends, but with a slowness which tires our faith because it is so great a mystery. We must fasten upon this attribute of God in our growth in holiness. There is something greatly overawing in the extreme slowness of God. Let it overshadow our souls, but let it not disquiet them. We must wait for God, long, meekly, in the wind and wet, in the thunder and the lightning, in the cold and the dark. Wait, and He will come. He never comes to those who do not wait. He does not go their road. When He comes, go with Him, but go slowly, fall a little behind; when he quickens His pace, be sure of it, before you quicken yours. But when He slackens, slacken at once: and do not be slow only, but silent, very silent, for He is God.”
I so much like this quote by Fredrick Faber. Can you see why it reminds me of that ancient pine tree? Yes, God's grace sometimes moves slowly… Paul remained in jail two years before he finally arrived in Rome… God's people remained in Egypt 400 years before they were ready for the next challenge. That thought alone helps as I consider that I have been in this wheelchair coming up on 45 years. And in that time, I have often had to wait for God in the wind and the wet, the cold and the dark. But you know what? He does come. I pray this will encourage you today if your life seems to have slowed down a bit. It may well be God has slackened His pace in your life… I can say from this wheelchair: that’s not a bad thing.
Not long ago I posted this photo of the California bristlecone pine on my blog, and today I’ve put it up on my radio page at joniandfriends.org. Take a few long moments to look at it. You may just hear the Holy Spirit whispering Galatians 5:25 in your ear: “Keep in step with the Spirit.” Because grace sometimes moves very slowly. If you’d like that quote by Fredrick Faber, just go to joniandfriends.org.
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