My son Noah was part of a saxophone quartet in his school’s Christmas concert two weeks ago. Noah has been playing the saxophone for a little over a year but has taken to it quite quickly. I am very proud of him, he works pretty hard at it but most of all he really enjoys it. With that said, I have to admit that I was a bit concerned during the week that led up to the concert. I was listening to him practice and while I could definitely hear improvement from when he first started with that particular music a few weeks earlier I just was not sure if he was ready. I asked him several times how confident he was and each time he assured me that he was going to do just fine. The day of his last practice before the concert I grilled him, “How was rehearsal? Did your instructor seem happy about your performance? Did he seem to think that you guys are ready?” With each question came the same answer, “Yes Dad, we are ready.”
As we sat in the concert waiting for Noah’s quartet to come on I was a little nervous. Again, I had heard him practice his part for a month, but I just was not sure how they would do together, on stage, in front of a big crowd. The quartet came on the stage and Noah began the first song, it was beautiful. They did a wonderful job, played with such confidence, such cohesion, I was so impressed and incredibly proud. The second song started and was even better than the first, you could see and hear each one of them grow in confidence with each note. I realize that I am completely biased but the saxophone quartet stole the show.
As Noah glowed from being proud of himself and received great compliments from his friends I realized that I was not just impressed with how good the quartet had played, I was surprised. You see, I had judged what I believed the performance would sound like while it was still in it’s planning stages. I had decided that the end product would sound the same as the first attempt, I had not given room for growth and change, and I had given even less thought to how well each person would work together in unity and how each part would come together and form something good.
I share all of this today because I believe that many of us walk through life judging the things, people and situations around us just like I had judged Noah’s saxophone quartet. Many times we see something that is less than we want or think it should be and we choose to believe that this is the end, this is the way it will always be. The Apostle Paul wrote these words to the Philippians, “He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Have you stopped to realize that you and all those around you are not complete yet? Thank God that we are not as we used to be, but even more, thank God that we are not yet as we will be. When impatience strikes, remember that the person that just fell short is not as they will be yet, they are still being formed, still being changed, still being made into what will one day, in eternity, be the finished work of God’s grace and love. When you fall down and fall short, don’t give in to the temptation to believe that you will never overcome, but rather remind yourself that God is still working and Paul’s promise is that your outcome is not dependent upon you and your ability, but rather God and His ability. The promise is for the Philippians to believe for themselves but it is also for them to believe about each other. As far as we have come we have much farther to go, don’t let that weary you, let it be the motivation that drives you to continue being led.
Every promise, every path, every person comes to a place in which the outcome is questioned. Israel stood at the Red Sea and wondered if there would ever be a Promised Land. Abraham looked at his elderly wife and wondered if he would ever have a son. David looked at his bandit army and wondered if he would ever be king and even the disciples heard the news of a dying Jesus and wondered if Israel would ever be saved. In your life right now you may be at the point of questioning if God’s promises will ever come to pass, you may have walked by faith, trusted with great hope and even told many others that God was going to do a good work; but right now, at this moment it just does not look like it will ever come to pass. I want to encourage you to not believe that the finished product will look like the current condition you see. Just as I could not possibly know how a quartet would sound by listening to the practices of one part you can not know the fullness of God’s plan by looking at the temporary condition of one day. In his autobiography, tennis star Andre Agassi wrote about his own experiences that people often treat each other as “finished products when in fact they’re in process.” Right now, everything is in process. You are and I am. Your life and my life and the lives of all those around us. I believe that a great place for us to ask for greater faith is to begin believing that God is as in control of the process as He is of the outcome. Do not believe that because you can not see how it is going to come to pass that it won’t and do not allow yourself to judge others as complete when they are in fact still in process. The God who started the work, who spoke the promise, who gave salvation is much more than able, He is responsible to finish, to fulfill and to accomplish all that He has started. The best news of all is that we are not asked to trust the process, we are told that we can trust the One that starts and finishes, that never falls short and only does what is good.