I hate processes. Well, maybe that’s too harsh. I strongly dislike them. For instance, I love capturing memories, and will save pictures, ticket stubs, etc. in hopes of preserving them. But, I hate to scrapbook. Takes too long. I love needlework, having learned to crochet and knit. But, I hate to start a project. Takes too long. I love to eat exotic meals. Hate to cook them. Takes too long. See the pattern?
As I was taking a walk yesterday, I came across a few trees in our neighborhood that had been damaged in recent storms. No, they were not destroyed by the heavy winds that came on the heels of the tornados that devastated towns in Alabama and Missouri. These trees were blown over or broken by gentler winds.
I had always liked them, Bradford pear trees. In the Nashville area, they are among the first to bloom, signaling the arrival of spring. They grow quickly, and are relatively inexpensive, making them a popular landscaping choice. There is no need to wait years for them to mature and bloom, unlike some of the more expensive trees that they resemble. However, their blooms fall early, the flowers smell rancid (the smell has been described as similar to “rotting flesh”), and they are prone to being damaged by winds of mere thunderstorms. They are, in essence, a “cheap fix” for those who want a particular look without having to pay the cost or go through the process. Get where I’m going?
James 1:2-4 says “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
I admit, I have not done well with considering my trials pure joy. I’ve more often than not responded with anger or frustration. I have missed the reality that it is the process that produces the desired result of maturity and completion. It is the testing of my faith that encourages me to press on in anticipation of seeing God move. The joy comes as a result of knowing the trial isn’t in vain. There is joy in knowing that I will be stronger, more mature, more like Christ, on the other side.
It is a challenge to go through the process, to not be like the Bradford pear. We want to grow quickly, painlessly, and effortlessly. We want to bloom early and look mature, but have little desire to press through. However, when minor storms blow through, we cave. Yes, there is fruit, there are flowers, but the petals fall as quickly as they bloomed, and quite honestly the flowers often smell, because they are produced under wrong motives, by our own strength or for our own glory. I’m not sure about you, but somehow, this tree isn’t as appealing to me as it once was. Neither are our shortcuts to God.
Learning to embrace the process,