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December 03, 2015

this slow salvation

I've never liked things that take a long time to accomplish. I might as well wear a badge that says, "Hello, my name is Julie, and I like things that can be done quickly" because this love of all things quick and easy shows itself all over my life.

Since my childhood, I've always been in a rush. My sister and I both liked to draw, but we gravitated to opposite styles of drawing. I drew cartoons in a few minutes. My sister would patiently labour over realistic shaded pencil drawings for days or weeks. While I was polishing off a sketchbook full of cartoons, she was adding the finishing touches to last week's life-like toucan. Our different approaches to life were also seen in how we learned piano. While I was improvising, chording and changing songs to make them easier to play; my sister was putting in the hours it took to flawlessly perform sonatas. You can guess who went on to take advanced music exams and teach piano, and who didn't. Becoming a master artist or a master pianist just didn't happen quickly enough to be a Julie thing to do.

To this day, it is obvious that I love instant gratification. That's why I write blog posts, not books and why my only gardening success happened when my dad was there to help me weed and water. I sew pillow cases, not queen size quilts; I serve one-dish meals, not meat and three; I make baking powder biscuits, not bread with traditional yeast. Because of my hurry, I've struggled to acquire the language in the last few countries where I've lived. Once the hard work of memorizing vocabulary or reading strange grammar explanations kicks in, I figure it is too much trouble and I talk English instead. Dessert appeals to me much more than jogging, because dessert tastes good right now. As for jogging, are you sure it does any good? Because when I get home I feel worse, not better! In any case, I still don't like waiting for things to happen. 

We have entered the advent season, the time of year when we remember Jesus' first coming. The advent we talk about in December is easy because we know which day He "comes" and can count down to it with chocolates. Perhaps we don't quite understand the distress of the long delay before Jesus' first coming. Advent is really just a nice way of saying something that isn't so nice at all: the story of Jesus' coming (advent) is a story of waiting. That is to say, the Christmas story is not my kind of story.

I can relate to Eve when I read that some commentators thought she expected her own firstborn, Cain, to be the promised Saviour. Had I been alive then, I would have been right there with her: taking a quick snack from the closest tree because the others were too far away, soon wishing I had done better long-range planning...then, expecting that if the Saviour was going to come from me, He was going to come ASAP

But what Eve could not have known was that there would be thousands of years of waiting until the first advent. Thousands of sins committed. Thousands of bulls and goats slaughtered. Thousands of lives that began and ended under the long shadow of that first tree. Had Eve known how slowly redemption would come, she might not have made such quick work of that fruit. Advent is not for the faint of heart. Waiting for a Saviour is not for people who like things that can be done quickly.

This advent season I'm beginning to appreciate things which happen slowly. As my friend's womb swells with the baby they waited nine years to conceive, I see how her whole pregnancy carries an inexpressible sense of wonder because of all the waiting. As I put on my running shoes and jog consistently on these grey December afternoons, I see slight changes in my body that couldn't be wrought by a one-week crash diet. As for my language studies, well, some work is still needed there. But this December I'm realizing that usually the most meaningful things in life take time and come slowly—just like Jesus. 

Advent reminds me that I need to ask for and appreciate slow, steady progress and delayed gratification. This December I'm asking for endurance to accomplish things that have not come easily to me in the past, no matter how seemingly significant or insignificant they are. I'm asking for His long-range vision to see people as He does, no matter where they are in their life stories, because God's working in history is a long story with lots of surprises. I'm asking for His return, as our world writhes with war and suffering that knows no quick answers. Just as He found Anna and Simeon awaiting His first advent, when He comes again for His Bride, I want Him to find me with my lamp still lit, expectant (even if it takes Him a while to show up and I'm using the extra lamp oil I brought along). Lastly, I'm asking for His forgiveness, for sins I've allowed to grow deep in my heart. I'm reminded that lasting heart change only comes from a long-term commitment to Him and to holy choices—there are no quick hacks for ridding myself of sin I've yielded to for years. It is only because He delays His judgment and is slow to anger that this girl who hates deliberation and slowness has another opportunity to be forgiven. This advent, I am glad that the Saviour is slow and waits for people who take a long time...people like me.

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, 
because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, 
as some understand slowness. 
Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, 
but everyone to come to repentance.

Therefore keep watch, 
because you do not know the day or the hour.


  1. This is a beautiful post, Julie. I really appreciate your heart, and I love those three verses at the end. As I was waiting to take my driving test this morning for the third time, I kept reminding myself, "slow and stop" because the past two tests I had failed for speeding through a school zone and not coming to complete stops. I thought about how important "slow and stop" are to life as well and your post on Advent really helps me to see the value in waiting and expectation when our natural desire is "let's get this done quickly." Thankful that He waits on me too as I am slow to learn (and that He helped me pass the driving test!)

    1. Hi Jodie, I like your thoughts on slowing and stopping. Perhaps God has built physical slowing down into the universe to teach us the need to slow down in other less tangible ways as well. :)

  2. Love this! It just fits with the desire to slow down in a fast paced world, to take things slow and really take things in. How can we be saturated by His presence when we are always ingesting on the run? And, what a great reminder of the BEAUTY in His delays and deliberate 'slowness'. Thanks!

  3. Hi Steph, Thanks for your comment! One of the best things (in my opinion) about knowing the Creator is that we get to see glimpses of beauty even difficulty...we know there is a purpose and good pls behind everything, even delays!