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
Often young children have a project in their early years of schooling that can be challenging for them. The idea of this project is for them to understand the natural process of a plant growing. The children receive a Styrofoam cup, a small amount of potting soil, and a bean seed. The three items are brought together easily but the difficulty comes with the young child's impatience. They often cannot understand why it is taking so long for the seed to sprout. No amount of wishing on the part of the child is going to cause that bean to grow any faster. Of course, the lesson that is intended to be learned is about how a plant grows and how to water and care for it. Perhaps the more important lesson that is learned in this project is patience.
Children check the cup regularly and they wonder why the bean hasn't come up. It can become an obsession. They wonder if it has been watered enough or whether there is enough sunlight where the cup is sitting. Through it all, they are forced to trust the process by which God has ordained for this small seed to grow into a plant. It can be slow but there is no magic way to make this seed grow faster.
When I was in the sixth grade my science experiment project involved growing some plants. I gave five different plants different liquids each day. I can't remember what the liquids all were. I do remember there was a control plant with water and two of the other plants got to drink Coke and milk each day. The water plant was the winner but the differences between the plants were negligible. What they needed to grow was time, liquid, and light. There was no magic liquid or method to turn that plant into Jack's beanstalk overnight. The caffeine in the Coke didn't jolt the plant to grow taller and thicker than the others. The plants grew like plants are supposed to grow.
In my experience so often we forget this lesson of patience when we look at growing spiritual fruit. We want to grow into better Christians overnight with a certain study or a weekend at a retreat or conference. In the end, while we may have benefited from these things the growth usually isn't as significant as we had hoped.
Just as we have to trust in the means that God ordains for the bean to grow in the cup, we must trust in the means that God has ordained for our spiritual growth. God has given us the Word and the sacraments for our benefit. He will be good to the promise for us to grow through them by the power of the Holy Spirit. God is working in you and just as he promised, you are being conformed to the image of his Son. It isn't going to happen overnight but that is also for your benefit. Things that grow quickly are not strong, do not last, and usually have very shallow roots. A faith that grows over time and is rooted in God's Word will last and have roots that are deep. Continue to hear the Word proclaimed to you. Continue to receive God's good gift in the Lord's Supper. Continue to fellowship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. God is working in you. You are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works. This is God's promise to you. You can trust it.