I confess… I stole the title from the amazing Anne Jackson who wrote a beautiful post about the slow and inefficient work of God. I stumbled back across it today and took a minute to sit with the truth of her words. I ran my fingers across the once jagged, broken places of my heart and felt a smooth surface where cracks and fissures used to cut my fingers open. It took time to get here, to this place of healing. A long time.
I believe with all of my heart that God can do in one moment what I cannot do in one lifetime. He is well able to completely transform our hearts in an instant. But, most of the time, that’s not the way He works. Generally with God and healing the process is slow and inefficient. Just like waves upon the shore; constant and steady and slow.
Oh sure, there are times when the waves rush in and completely change the landscape. When the white foamed seas transform beaches and cliffs. Times of hurricanes and tsunamis. Times when the waves beat upon us so hard that we struggle for the next breath, desperate to hang on so we won’t get swept out to sea.
And then the storm ends and blue skies and slow steady waves return. And we wonder if we will ever be healed. If the rough edges will ever be smoothed away.
Slow and inefficient.
This is the work of the Healer.
The key, I’ve found, is to stay. Through stormy seas and blue skies I have to stay. Sand in a sand box will never be transformed. Rocks in a landscape will never be smoothed out. It is only when we firmly plant ourselves on the shore of healing that we will be changed. Slowly, inefficiently, sometimes violently, changed.
Staying is hard. And we don’t have to. We can retreat inland, away from the waves. Staying is a choice. For a long time it was a choice that I refused. I retreated from the waves. I was impatient with their slow inefficient work. I wanted results! And I wanted them now! Then a storm would brew and lash out at me and I wanted it to stop! And to stop now! Eventually I grew tired of the constant waves. Convinced that they weren’t actually accomplishing anything, l drew back, just out of reach of the water’s edge.
What a miserable place to live. One step removed from healing. I remember getting mad at God. Shaking my fist at Him. “Why won’t you heal me?” I’d accuse. “Why won’t you come to the water?” He’d reply.
And so I came. I came and firmly planted my feet along the shore of God. I came and I decided that I would stay her, come what may, and be healed. I would stay here and allow the slow and inefficient waves of mercy and grace wash over me again and again and again and again and… again. I decided to stay through the storms. Stay through the nights. Stay through the quiet. Stay.
The thing about waves is that they never stop. Never. Every time I am fortunate enough to put my toes in salty seas they are there. No matter how much time has passed. No matter what month or day or hour, they are there. Constant. Just like His grace. Just like His faithfulness.
Jesus asked the twelve, “You do not want to leave me too, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” John 6:67-68
I’ve been many places in my life. But only one place offers hope. Here. At the feet of Jesus, on the shores of mercy, where the slow inefficient work of God washes over me.
Here is where I plan to stay.