Not At The Gate Yet.
A Lesson in Understanding “Work in Progress”
We learned a valuable lesson as we headed out on a vacation several years ago. We’ve always heard of the idea that we are all a “work in progress,” but this situation humbled us enough to see how easily we fall into the trap of believing that we have instead “arrived.”
Pride Comes Before the Fall
Pride goes before destruction; and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18 ESV
It began with a long wait in the security line when we got to the airport. But we had plenty of time before our flight so we didn’t let the wait get us down. We celebrated the fact that we made it to the airport with enough time to not experience the stress of a time crunch.
Once through security, we felt confident we had enough time to sit down at a restaurant to eat, so we began to search out the best option to satisfy our hunger. It was a fairly leisurely search as we had plenty of time before we needed to board our plane. Again, we celebrated how great this trip was starting off!
Watch Where You Walk
Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV
In the midst of a crowd of other travelers, we spotted a perfect restaurant up ahead and kept our eyes on the prize as we somewhat patiently moved at the pace set by the crowds around us. We were so excited for the meal ahead of us, we barely paid attention to our surroundings.
Once we reached the restaurant, we noticed that this area of the airport looked a bit different than the others. We scanned our surroundings, mostly to be sure we could find our way back toward our starting point. It was at that moment we both realized we had somehow exited the secure terminal. We had followed our stomachs right back into the ticketing area outside of the security checkpoint. Uh oh.
We abandoned the perfect restaurant, sadly, and made a beeline to security, where now the line was at least twice as long as the first time we had gone through it. Our celebratory spirit quickly sank to tense concern.
Anxiety Isn’t the Answer
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Matthew 6:25-34 NIV
This wait in line was far different from the last one. We were no longer pridefully celebrating how we had aced this first leg of our trip. Instead, we were constantly checking our watches, our stomach hunger pangs replaced with pierces of anxiety. The line was much slower than our first visit through security. Time seemed to be moving much faster. Every time the line would move up, we celebrated the small win, but began to remind each other that, while this was progress, we weren’t at the gate yet.
Once through security, we began to feel confident, but our watches quickly reminded us that we were in a race with the clock. Boarding had already begun. And we weren’t at the gate yet.
So confident in our timing the first time through security, we hadn’t even taken notice of where our gate was. Instead, we began our celebratory restaurant search. Now, the second time through, we frantically searched for the sign to point toward our gate. Much to our dismay, our gate was at the very end of the terminal. We walked briskly through the crowds of travelers. After a few minutes, we began a slight jog. Would we make it to the gate?
As we rounded the corner to our gate, each now sweating and breathing heavily, we saw that the last of the passengers were boarding the plane. We had made it to the gate. But, we resisted patting ourselves on the backs…because we weren’t on the plane yet.
We did make it on that plane, had a wonderful vacation, and learned a valuable lesson through it all.
Look to Jesus
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12: 1-2 ESV
This life is a journey full of twists and turns, roadside distractions, potholes and detours. Our own selfish desires pull us away from the true prize. Oftentimes, we look to worldly definitions of success and believe that we have arrived. We pat ourselves on the back because we have accomplished something, only to find out that our own pride has clouded out the real, life-giving destination—holy, eternal life with our Creator God through His Son Jesus.
Work in Progress
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV
We aren’t at the gate yet, friends. We are in a process of sanctification—pursuing a life that looks more and more like Jesus each day. The minute we start to celebrate our ‘arrival’ is the day we are backsliding into a life lived for ourselves rather than for God.
Why do we share this story? Because we want you to know that we (Steve & Lisa) have not arrived. We are not at the gate, yet. While our marriage journey has grown us immensely and we celebrate that growth, we are still sinners. We mess up. We break our own rules. Too often, we disappoint each other. Sadly, we hurt the one we love most. We fall short of the glory of God every day.
He Works It All Out
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 ESV
God is the one who works all things out.
We can celebrate Him through the our “work in progress” life, because He is bigger than life. Rather than patting our own backs, we can praise the Savior, who has freely sacrificed his life for ours.
Nope, we’re not at the gate yet. But we trust the God who guides, and we’re glad to be walking alongside those who are headed there with us.
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