I often think back to the truths I held onto when I was in the field that I still cling to now that I’m back stateside. What I keep coming back to is God’s promise that He will complete the good work He started in us.
I have to confess that when I think about sanctification being God’s work within believers to make us more in the likelihood of Jesus, it feels really hard. I often have not valued sanctification in the way it should be valued, and I haven’t rejoiced over it the way I wish I would have. I think back to earlier times in my faith where sanctification was something I joked about or spoke of flippantly. Over the years, I’ve come to realize how desperately I needed to rejoice over the sanctifying work God is doing in my soul. I need to give the process the weight in my life that it deserves.
Someone once told me that going overseas was expediting the sanctification process. We experienced that during our time in the field. When you’re abroad, sanctification moves faster. So much of who you are is being changed and transformed all the time. But this process of sanctification is not unique to goers or the environments we work in. It is a process that God is doing in every single one of His children. God’s sanctifying work in you is just as important as the salvation work He’s doing among the lost. It is not an unintentional byproduct of our outreach, but the foundation that God has built for that work to spring forth. That should make us want to tend to our sanctification and rejoice in it. We should genuinely take time to delight in the ways God is changing and transforming us. Whether that is how He is using our location, culture, unmet expectations of this season, or relationships, we need to be a people that thoughtfully consider what God has done and is doing within us.
For six out of the seven years we were overseas, our ministry was a grind. We had very little tangible fruit and living in our country was not a walk in the park. So it was easy to wrestle with disappointment and discouragement when we felt like God wasn’t working in the ways we wanted Him to. For so long, we weren’t seeing locals respond to Jesus—a work that would have been quantifiable. But God’s work within me wasn’t something that could be counted up. I too often forgot that every morning I woke up with faith in my resurrected Savior Jesus, I had already witnessed God’s miraculous power.
The same is true for all of God’s children. Brothers and sisters, every morning you wake up and believe that Jesus Christ is still Lord of all, you have seen a miracle and can go through the rest of your day confident that He is still at work, right where you are. You are a breathing demonstration of His power. There is not a day that goes by when you have not seen God’s miracles as long as you are still standing in faith. We know the Lord cares about what is quantifiable, but He also blesses through things that are unseen—that aren’t able to be expressed in numbers. Think about the works He has done in you, the ways He has changed and transformed you, that you can rejoice in today. I hope for us, that we can be a people that can have a spirit of joy because we know that God is at work within us and through us.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:23 ESV