“The Lord works in mysterious ways.”
This phrase, oft-used though it is, pertains to so many different situations. The mind and the ways of God are so incredible, there are really no words to describe them.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways
And My thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9
Today’s topic is sanctification. It is not a word that is used much anymore, unfortunately. I don’t even hear it in church circles much. To use ye old Merriam-Webster, sanctification means:
1 : to set apart to a sacred purpose or to religious use : consecrate
2 : to free from sin : purify
3 a : to impart or impute sacredness, inviolability, or respect to
b : to give moral or social sanction to
4 : to make productive of holiness or piety
In short, it is the process God uses, in His mysterious ways, to make people more like Christ as they follow and seek Him throughout their lives. I call it a miracle, because, it is. How God can take a filthy sinner, save them from their evil ways, and begin a supernatural work in them to make them holy is truly beyond comprehension.
I had a conversation recently with a teenage girl who expressed frustration at the fact that she didn’t know if God was working in her life. She wanted to be a mature Christian but didn’t see that it was happening.
Two passages immediately came to mind which address that topic, more or less.
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6
That verse has brought me comfort over the years. Knowing that God is continuing His work in my life, even when I can’t tell, is quite encouraging.
But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:8-9
While this passage isn’t specifically about sanctification, it does help us refocus our perspective on time. While a year feels like a year to us mere mortals, the God of the Bible has the advantage of looking at the whole continuum of human history, from start to finish.
With that perspective, we can begin to appreciate that God sees the long game. He saw all our days long before we were born (Psalm 139:16). He knows each step we will take, and therefore can see how our walk with Him is going to turn out.
Having traveled a few more miles down the highway of life than my young friend, I took the opportunity to reflect on the years that elapsed since I was her age. I can say, it has been an incredible ride. Thinking about the status of my faith 20 years ago versus now reveals to me how much God has been at work, shaping my attitudes and growing my love for Him.
To those Christians wondering or perhaps concerned about the process of sanctification in their lives, I would offer the following admonitions.
- Be Patient. Considering the passages above, we know that God is working in our lives. The fruit of His labor will unfold over the years, and may not be evident right away. It wasn’t for yours truly.
- Be Prayerful. To borrow from a country song, “Don’t let your praying knees get lazy.” With the command to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) in view, let us continue in fellowship with our heavenly Father, seeking His ways as we pour out our hearts to Him in prayer.
- Be Persistent. Don’t give up on your walk with God. Become a student of the Word, reading it daily, and see #2. 🙂 Continue to seek Him first (Matthew 6:33) and watch what He does in your heart. Keeping a journal of things you are learning along the way helps a great deal to track your progress.
The fantastic thing about sanctification is that it is an ongoing process, for as long as we live. If I can see the differences in 20 years, I can only imagine what 20 more years will bring.
God is truly good, and His works are wonderful. I pray dear reader that you will experience this for yourself if you have not already.