Just show up. That’s the advice: just show up and keep showing up. When you do this, the rest will come. Or that’s the promise.
Do I trust it? My actions would say not. I’m not good at showing up day after day after day with no evidence that anything is happening, that my showing up is “worth it”. Worth what? And to who?
How much do I trust the One who promises?
Or do I trust my own culture of instant results, immediate payouts, more?
I watch the steady change of the seasons; each day more leaves are fading into yellow, burning into orange, shaking loose from their tree, and being blown about in the wind, collecting in the corners in great piles of old yesterdays.
I trust this change, that it will keep turning, that the next form of beauty will emerge from the old, day by day, little by little. I trust that drop by drop a puddle will be formed, a plant watered, fruit grown. So why can’t I trust this slow transformation in myself? Drip feeding towards change, deliberate moment by deliberate moment, but only visible when looking back over a distance.
Our culture tells us to expect newness as an instant transformation, that fame will happen overnight without hard work, just happenstance, we buy ready-to-eat and complain about 2-minute noodles taking too long. We are trained from the cradle to expect and desire quick change and miraculous, and there are numerous examples of instant miracles in the Bible. But there are also numerous stories of slow change, of commitment. In essence, the whole Bible is the story of God’s commitment to us, no matter our fickle nature, and the changes that can be wrought through this steadfast love.
We crave the instant fix, but that only changes the external, we still have to do the slow change of the internal to match. Even if we are miraculously healed, our thinking and actions need to shift to match or the healing will not be complete, we would remain just as trapped by it as if the healing never took place.
I remember years ago in youth group discussing the armour of God (see Ephesians 6), why each element is that particular piece of armour. In discussion of the Helmet of Salvation we talked about how our salvation, though brought about through one moment of acceptance, must also work to transform our thoughts, we must learn to constantly think in our new mindset given by Christ (see 1 Corinthians 2:16), to live our lives from that salvation mindset, not having it as an extra add-on to our unchanged mode of living.
Neuroscience now tells us that our thoughts, the very way we think, shapes our brains, how they function, and how we are able to think. To change our thoughts, and therefore our brains, requires a deliberate shift and a constant sustained effort until it becomes second-nature, until we have re-formed our brains into new patterns. The Bible tells us to turn our minds to the good (see Philippians 4:8), to transform and renew our minds, to conform to God’s ways, not the ways of the world (see Romans 12:2). A large part of the conformity is the way we think and act.
Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.
What we think, we become.
Do I trust?
Do I trust that the small effort day-by-day will shape into a long-term change?
Do I trust God when He promises to complete the work He began in me (see Philippians 1:6)?
Do I trust God when He promises there will be larger results than I can see from my small obediences?
Do I trust God to honour my showing up and just keep on showing up when that is asked of me?
Do I trust that when my eyes are on God, drop by drop my life can be transformed?