In his book The Birth of Britain, Winston Churchill writes the following:
No one can understand history without continually relating the long periods which are constantly mentioned to the experiences of our own short lives. Five years is a lot. Twenty years is the horizon to most people. Fifty years is antiquity. To understand how the impact of destiny fell upon any generation of men one must first imagine their position and then apply the time-scale of our own lives. Thus nearly all changes were far less perceptible to those who lived through them from day to day than appears when the salient features of an epoch are extracted by the chronicler.
In other words, change occurs slowly, and for chronologically near-sighted people like us it’s very hard to perceive where history is going. Here’s what strikes me about this quote: I’m chronologically near-sighted with my own life. I measure change in my sanctification by the time-scale of a day – am I less selfish now than I was yesterday? Am I more humble and loving?
I evaluate my marriage or my ministry this way, too. I was impatient with my wife this morning – I’m a terrible husband! I just gave that person really good counsel- I’m the best pastor in the history of Christendom! The tide of my joy or my despair so often ebbs and flows on an hourly basis, full of faith one moment, discouraged the next.
Do you see the problem? When I’m chronologically near-sighted I miss the fact that God has a much bigger time-scale than I do. His agenda for change in my life is much bigger than mine, and it is also much longer. I’d be content with a few obvious tweaks to my heart and attitude that God and I could accomplish together in a few days, or a couple of months at the most. God’s reform plan, however, began before I was born and won’t be completed until my death or the coming of Jesus. And – this is the best part – God’s fine with that!
Today, this day, no matter what has occurred, God has been at work in your life to make you like Jesus. That is true for every Christian regardless of how you feel your sanctification is going or how well you can perceive change at work in your life. Don’t measure your progress by your own time scale. Joy and peace come from resting in these words:
1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.? He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”