Everyone loves an underdog story.
From kids who start out in bad situations and make it big, to sports teams that should lose but end up winning, we like big, unexpected results. There is a reason why so many books and movies are “rags to riches” stories. We like big, sudden turnarounds.
It should not surprise us, then, that we like spiritual comeback stories too. We like to focus on dramatic testimonies and instant changes. However, that is not the way most people experience spiritual growth and renewal. Most of us are much more like a man that Jesus met in the little town of Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26).
On that day, some friends brought a blind man to be healed. Instead of the instant, spectacular, showy event they were expecting, Jesus took the man outside of town where no one else could see them. Then he spat on the man’s eyes (not exactly something that you dream about) and then he asked, “Do you see anything?”
The man’s response is interesting because he says, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes and this time the man’s eyes were opened, and he could see clearly.
I like that this healing is progressive. It does not happen all at once. Instead, the man’s sight returns slowly and in stages.
Isn’t this how things happen for most of us? Change usually comes in small, incremental steps. We understand a little more. We see ourselves a little more clearly. We determine to become different or to do something better. We fail and try again. We pray and trust. It is a process.
Do not be discouraged if parts of your life are still a little blurry. Not only is it okay to grow in holiness, it is normal. Rather than demanding perfection from ourselves or others, what we ought to look for and encourage is progress. Movement toward God is the important part.
At your baptism, your status changed. Instantly, you went from sinner to saint because you were clothed with Christ (Galatians 3:26-27).
Holiness, however, takes time.