October 2, 2023
Read This if You Think You’re Falling Behind
JENNIFER DUKES LEE
Lee en español
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens ..." Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)
That's how I've felt so many times. Behind in my career, behind in forging solid relationships, and behind in hitting whatever milestones I think I need to hit.
I'm guessing you've felt that way, too - like your growth is stunted and you're falling behind while everyone races happily on by.
Culture is quick to offer a solution for the progress you desire. With a certain supplement or diet plan, you can "lose 10 pounds in a week." If you want to grow your finances, you are promised million-dollar results after a three-day conference. There's a shortcut for every goal you've ever set for your home, your body, your marriage or your career. Look to the ads for proof.
Oh, if only growth were so easy.
My family farm in Iowa can tell us a different story - a better story - about growth. Right now, the farm is in a season of harvest, when we shear the fields to bring in our crops. These towering plants grew up from tiny seeds planted in the spring. God grows crops slowly from seeds to roots to stalks to leaves. The last thing to grow on a corn plant ... is the corn.
Yet in all my years as a farm wife, I've never once seen a corn plant freaking out. I've never seen a corn plant compare itself to another faster-growing stalk. I've never seen a corn plant question its worth when growth was slow.
As it turns out, we can learn a lot by paying attention to the fields. Because here's the truth: We can't harvest on the same day we plant.
That's true for crops, and that's true for people.
I understand how frustrating it can be to feel like you're falling behind, especially when it relates to something you've been praying about for a long time. It can feel like everyone around you is reaping a harvest while you're a tiny seed stuck under the dirt.
But here are two things I know to be true about growth:
- Growth takes time, sometimes an entire lifetime.
In Ecclesiastes 3:1, God shows us that, like a field, we grow through seasons: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens ..." Those seasons are filled with ups and downs: mourning, dancing, weeping, laughing, planting and uprooting (Ecclesiastes 3:2-8). Not all seasons give us exactly what we want, but slowly God unfolds His perfect plan for our growth.
- Growing is hard.
I wish God would always grow my faith with trips to the beach. Instead of growth that requires struggle, I want to pray my way out of the struggle. But as God grows us, He is more interested in transforming our hearts than He is in transforming our circumstances.
I am not going to wrap a happy bow around the hard things you face. Each of us alone decides how we experience a hard season. You have every right to feel terrible about seasons that have tested you. You have every right to mourn the losses. You have every right to wonder why the growth you desire is taking so long.
And also ... you can be assured that seasons of fruitful growth are part of God's plan for you. Ecclesiastes promises us that healing, love and peace are a part of our bigger story.
In God's timing, in His way, there is a purpose for all seasons: the quiet of winter, the beauty of spring, the growth of summer, and - just as we are experiencing here on the farm - the harvest of fall.
As long as your heart is still beating, the divine Farmer is still growing you. Let Him do what only He can do. Your harvest is coming too.
God, You are the Lord of the Harvest. Slow me down so I can see the beautiful ways You are growing me - one season at a time - to bring about an abundant harvest in the field of my life. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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FOR DEEPER STUDY
Galatians 6:9, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (NIV).
As God grows good things in your life, be encouraged that the harvest will come. Where are you waiting for growth? Share in the comments.
© 2023 by Jennifer Dukes Lee. All rights reserved.