Earlier this fall, I visited with an entrepreneur I initially met through a YBL men’s group. Matthew was an engineer at GE Aircraft Engines when we met. Now, almost 5 years later, he is a small business owner and restaurant operator. As I toured Just Q’in, Matthew led me to a special room where, as he stated, “the beauty happens.” This was the room where he mixed his sauces, rubs, and other recipes. One of the seasonal favorites is brisket chili. He showed me a large pot that was cooling. This wonderful culinary delight simmered for hours, after being intentionally mixed and blended. The ingredients were not simply tossed in the large pot and brought to boil. The order of events was critical – the elements were placed in the pot in a specific sequence which allows for the interaction of ingredients and the desired consistency, which resulted in the flavorful and desired final product. You cannot rush the process.
In a recent conversation with my daughter, I was reminded again of our culture’s desire for speed and instantaneous results. Not everything works that way. Dr. Jennings, professor of photography at the University of Dayton said, “I fear that we’ve lost the ability to really develop photography – the quality, the texture, the lighting, the emotion…this all takes time. It is the art of photography. This happens in the dark room, and you cannot rush the process.”
The same is true of building disciples: you cannot rush the process. In our microwave society, we catch the vision, and we want to get the final product as soon as possible. This is a good desire, as the finished product of discipleship will surely make a lasting impact on our work-places, communities, and families. The challenge is that the finished product cannot be created, sped up, jump started, or streamlined. Jesus, our model, walked throughout Palestine. He took three years to model the work, impart the vision, and model for ages to come that the work is incarnational. Just spend a few minutes in the gospels.
Ephesians 5:1-2 states, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Walk appears throughout scripture 347 times. Think of father of the prodigal son who runs to his son as the son returns home. As followers of Jesus, we are admonished in the following: walk by faith (II Corinthians 5:7), walk by the Spirit (Galatians 5:16), walk in the light (I John 1:5-7), walk according to God’s commands (2 John 1:6), & to walk out your faith intentionally (Colossians 4:5-6, I Thessalonians 4:12). Whether it is Enoch walking with God, God walking with His people or Jesus with His disciples, the consistent message throughout Scriptures is that discipleship takes time. Any relationship does – particularly your relationship with the God of the Universe.