– Pastor Brandon’s article from the September 2018 Newsletter
“Don’t forget to ‘WIP’ your time!” That’s a funny little phrase that has made its way into normal conversations at our house. “WIP” stands for something like “work-in-process,” and at Hannah’s office they use the phrase to remind one another that when a particular task is done it needs to be marked as complete in their software so that a bill can be generated for clients. Apparently, accountants need this constant reminder.
The phrase “work-in-process” means a lot to me right now. As I look around at my life, there are a multitude of projects that are all in various stages of completion. We all face various demands at work, at home, in our relationships, and every other area of life, and it seems like new things crop up and need to be addressed before we can tie up all the loose ends on the last project. Sometimes this state of being “in process” drives me crazy. There are things I want done, that I can’t get to. But other times, I’m much more settled about it, and patiently chip away at things when time allows.
All this “in-process” talk makes me think of our spiritual lives as well. Many times we expect perfection. We’re hard on ourselves and others. “Why haven’t we got this all figured out yet?” we ask. “Shouldn’t I be better at this by now?” Or, “Shouldn’t they know better?” Maybe or maybe not.
How should we think about it? Well, spiritual growth is a process for us and for others, and we’d all do much better to remember that. The apostle Paul in reflecting on his desire to know Christ fully – including his sufferings and the power of his resurrection – said it this way:
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. (Philippians 3:12-15)
Paul’s number one goal was to take hold of Christ and the life he was called to live with him. He understood that he had a lot of growing to do, and he was going to keep pressing on. He would not let his past failures derail him nor would he drift along trying to ride the waves of his past success. Rather, he would continue to pursue Christ with all his heart and strive to reach the goal to which God had called him. Somewhat paradoxically he says, real maturity demands that we understand that we have some maturing left to do.
So not everything will be perfect. We will make mistakes and experience setbacks – and others will too. This is not to make excuses for bad behavior or laziness, but only a reminder that we have not arrived and that perfection will not be achieved until we obtain glorious transformation in eternity with Christ. Until then, we are all a work in process. Maybe if we can keep this in mind, we’ll be able to extend a bit more grace to ourselves and to others in Jesus’ name.