My doctor has a deft machine called a “Human Body Composition Analyzer.” It is a technological wonder whereby the patient stands on special foot plates while taking in each hand what is essentially a digital ski pole. In these plates and poles are copious electronic transmitters that radiate ultrasonic waves through the patient’s hands and feet.
When the scan is complete, the analyzer reports to the patient exactly what he or she is made of. This machine measures what percentage of the body is water; what percentage is lean, fit muscle; and what percentage of the body is nothing but heart-smothering, artery-clogging fat.
After my recent experience with this device, it spit out my numbers and I was aghast. I protested. Vigorously. “That can’t be right,” I said. “Last time I had a similar test it was much better. I can’t be in the old-old-fat-man category!”
So my doctor, sympathetically, ruminated a moment. Then he asked, “When was that last analysis taken?” I stumbled around a moment and finally said, “Not that long ago. It was when I was 28.” The good doctor flipped a few pages in my medical record and said, “That was 15 years ago.”
Doing the math oh so easily, it became apparent that I had gained only one pound — only a single, solitary pound — but I had gained that pound every year for 15 years. Apparently, a pound a year over a decade and a half is enough to turn a lean, muscular 20-something into a soft, lardy 40-something.
The change in my body, like most change, wasn’t immediate. I didn’t go to sleep one night, with the body of an athlete, and wake up the next morning resembling something like a nicely marbled piece of veal. Change occurs incrementally, step by tiny step (No doubt, losing those 15 pounds will occur gradually as well, but hopefully they will fall away quicker than they arrived).
This is true not just with the transitions that occur to a human body. A country’s revolution begins, not with a single shot, but with years of accumulated and unanswered grievances. An earthquake shatters the stillness, not out of abruptness, but from decades of gathering subterranean tension. A dam breaks only after a century of growing, miniscule fractures in its structure, not because of a sudden collapse.
I could go on and on. Change might appear sudden and unseen, but to those who watch, those who patiently plan and record the data, change is not a surprise at all. It is the expected, inevitable result, a result driven by the maturation of time and circumstance.
God works in similar fashion. What is easily misrepresented as unexpected is actually the product of many years and thousands of moving parts. The person you fell in love with — it wasn’t the result of a single blind date. Your whole life led you to that person. Your whole existence has made the two of you compatible.
The child for which you prayed is the product of much more than a single sexual act. He or she contains the genetic material of your ancestors going back thousands of years. That job that you landed is the product of your education and work history, yes, but more so, it is the result of your entire life’s experience.
God is leading a conspiracy of patience in your life. So much of what you are exasperated with, so much of what you question and protest against, so much of what you pray for but never hear answers, is God’s deliberate, plodding, incremental way. God is allowing the pressure to build, the years to mature, the pieces on the game board of life to properly align themselves, and then the change will come.
You cannot speed it up. It has to work itself out, and when the time is right, the earth beneath your feet will begin to move, the events and circumstances for which you have longed and prayed will suddenly erupt, because the fullness of time — God’s time — will have finally arrived.
Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author. His newest book is “The Gospel According to Waffle House.” You can read more at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.