When I teach writing, I’m amazed at how often students think the writing process is a big waste of time. If I assign a story, they want to sit down and write a story. Many treat brainstorming and planning like obstacles keeping them from finishing their assignment.
How I wish I could help them understand that when they skip planning, it causes them grief and frustration. Writing is a process! Learning the process is more important than completing the assignment. To develop life-long skill, students need to master every part of the process.
Writing isn’t the only area where there is a process that includes preparation.
- A skilled athlete doesn’t charge into competition without building strength and practice skills.
- A good gardener doesn’t plant without preparing the soil.
- A builder doesn’t walk into a field and start pouring concrete for a foundation.
My daily walk takes me near a multi-home construction site. The first thing I noticed was not construction workers with nail guns but guys on backhoes. The developers first cleared the overgrowth and debris. Then they leveled the lots and dug trenches for utilities while putting in the road and sidewalk. Weeks of preparation came before they began building.
It is obvious preparation is essential. However, I realized this week that I’ve been attempting to work with God on life-change without prep time.
In our last meeting, my counselor asked me what actions I need to take to move towards life change. Everything I offered was basically the equivalent to trying to build the house without ever clearing the lot.
While she has no idea about the construction site I see daily, she said to think about life-change like building a new house. Preparation requires answering questions like these:
—What actions need to happen before the house can be built?
—What are the root causes of the current problem?
—What are the mindsets that cannot go with you if you are to change?
—Who are the people who will lead you to relapse?
—What are the ways you tend to sabotage yourself?
—Where does groundwork need to be done to clear away trash?
—What do I need to learn in order to be a homeowner?
When I copied those questions in my journal, they were facing the page where I had written out these words from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “We don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons,
—to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and
—to destroy false arguments.
—We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God.
—We capture their rebellious thoughts
—and teach them to obey Christ.
When I looked at my journal and saw the two lists side by side, I realized knocking down, destroying, capturing, and teaching–all are part of the backhoe work that Christ and I need to do in my mind and heart.
While teaching once, Jesus said:
“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a
building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish
it?” (Luke 14:28)
Well, Jesus, that would be me. I’ve skipped investing time and energy to count the cost because I wanted to dive right in. Which—of course—hasn’t produced lasting change.
Now I’m asking Him to guide as I seriously prepare. Life-change is not a task I can rush through and check off so that Christ can shine through my life. He shines through every part of the process. It’s His process. His work.
“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted.” (Psalm 127:1a)
What about you? Do you try to rush ahead? What is God teaching you as you work with Him in the process of heart preparation?