The Course of Time
1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
—2 Timothy 4:1-4
Recently our family took a day trip to pleasant little island-turned-state park on the Ohio River just outside Parkersburg, West Virginia. Blennerhassett Island has a unique history going back to Vice President Aaron Burr. However, what caught my attention after a short horse and buggy ride was a grove of Black Walnut trees. Someone clearly invested a lot of effort behind a vision of creating this picturesque grove of trees. In all probability, the person or group who planted this grove never lived to see their efforts fully materialize. Yet this beautiful, restful grove now serves as a testament to someone’s vision and diligence combined with patience and perseverance.
Disciple-making in the context of faithful ministry requires the same mindset as planting a grove of Black Walnut trees. Paul encouraged Timothy to “preach the word . . . with complete patience”
(2 Timothy 4:2
). Paul also exhorted the church in Ephesus to “keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18
Though many of us would readily acknowledge the impact of God’s Word and prayer, we can easily forget the process that is often required for lasting spiritual transformation. This process can take some time. Sanctification begins the moment we, a loved one, or a friend accepts Christ as Lord and Savior. Then they begin to grow though the faithful work of the Holy Spirit as the Word is patiently preached and received, often in answer to our prayers. Growth comes slowly at some times, more quickly at other times. The key word is of course is time. Nothing significant grows overnight.
Perhaps there is no greater combination in ministry than patient proclamation of God’s Word and persevering prayer. This is why Paul reminds us to properly align our vision for ministry with God’s perfect timetable. And continue to persevere in prayer for all saints. When we accept God’s timing for visible results, we are free to invest our lives in the greater purposes of our Eternal God; maybe, some transformation will become evident during our time here on earth (thankfully). But much of the transformation will come outside our temporal sightlines in the decades, even generations to come by the grace and sovereignty of God. Wait on God and continue in prayer. Like the Black Walnut grove, the evidence may come when we are no longer here to see.—Luke Ahrens
• Is there someone in my life I have been praying to be saved for a long time?
• Do I ever feel like giving up that prayer? How can I persevere?
Prayer – Almighty Father, I know your timing in everything is perfect, but I so long for my loved one to know you as I do. Give me the perseverance to continue praying for them and to never give up. Help me to trust in Your timing. Forgive me when I doubt Your timing. Help me to look through Your eyes and perfect will for their salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.