There was once a time I purchased a dress only with the intentions of wearing it once and returning it afterwards. For the record, let me make it known; purchasing something with the intent of using it once only to return it is not the wisest decision for a multitude of reasons. After this story you’ll never forget the red corduroy dress...
I couldn’t forget it even if I tried. The amount of compliments I received the night I was wearing the red corduroy dress was overwhelming. While the compliments were pleasing to my ego, I was far from feeling at ease within myself. The entire night I was overly concerned with ruining the dress that I couldn’t even enjoy my time. The event provided an assortment of desserts in which I ate with my neck extended three inches from my body. I didn’t allow any children to look my way, let alone breathe my direction. I did everything possible to avoid any mishaps with the dress. The entire night was a hassle.
Hours went by and the event finally came to an end and for the first time I took a deep breath and exhaled. I did it! I survived the night without ruining the dress! Success! Or so I thought... I remember finally getting back to my house and sitting at the edge of my bed folding the dress and preparing it for its return, when suddenly I felt compelled to examine the dress once again before final packaging. I gave the front of the dress a quick examine and was beyond impressed with my ability to survive the night without any stains.
In much excitement, I then turned the dress around to the backside and immediately my heart skipped several beats. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It felt as if I was staring at my fate when my eyes locked into the crotch of the dress only to notice it was smeared with bright pink Hubba Bubba gum! The red corduroy dress had become a pink corduroy dress. I began to hyperventilate as I frantically reached for my phone to google every gum removal trick in the book.
To my benefit, the internet had many gum removal videos and tutorials by people who have had similar mishaps. Honestly I just want to give God a shout of praise for Youtube. I don’t know where I would be without it. As I scrolled though the Internet I compiled a list of the top tricks and hacks, ran to the store, bought every gum removal supply, and began to scrub, rub, rinse, etc. I was determined to get the gum out of the dress by all means because this purchase was far out of my budget. Returning it was non-negotiable.
THIS WAS A DISASTER I COULD NOT AFFORD...LITERALLY.
Two hours had gone by and I realized the gum was still fully intact. It seemed as if I hadn’t done a thing, as the progress was nearly unrecognizable. I began to get frustrated and angry, yelling at inanimate objects -- that’s how you know the frustration is real! I did everything recommended, yet the gum was still there and the dress was indeed ruined. I was ready to give up but before doing so I decided to call my mom because mothers know everything, right? Side note: Mothers are superheroes who don’t get enough credit -- probably because they never answer the phone.
But to my surprise my mother answered the phone this time! I explained the situation to her and I began listing all of the tactics I had been doing to get the gum out of the dress. She noticed the cracking in my voice, as I was on the verge of tears. And in the midst of my frustration my mom so calmly said words I will never forget. She said, “You’re doing all the right things...you just have to give it time. Just keep doing it.”
I sat on the phone in silence for a moment as my mom repeated herself once again. I thought to myself, “Could she be right? Could it actually be that simple"?” So I thanked her for her wise words and got back to scrubbing and within just a few more hours of consistency the dress was completely gum free! I sighed a sigh of relief. As I type this I’m once again sighing a sigh of relief. Finally! The dress was back to its original state and ready to return! I
found myself continually thinking about my mom’s words over the phone. “You’re doing all the right things...you just have to give it time. Just keep doing it.” I couldn’t help but to parallel what she said with the Christian walk and how I have felt so often. I think oftentimes it’s easy to get discouraged when we feel like we’re doing everything Scripture says to do and we’re spending time day in and day out doing our devotions, fasting, praying, attending weekly gatherings, and being authentic in our faith, yet we somehow still feel like that gum smeared red corduroy dress.
We’re devoting every moment of our lives to becoming more like Christ, yet we sometimes find ourselves feeling stagnant -- far away from Christ and far away from looking like Him. It’s a frustrating place to be in -- but I think God would say something similar to what my mom said to me over the phone, in a time of great frustration and discouragement in our walk with Christ,
“YOU'RE DOING ALL THE RIGHT THINGS...YOU JUST HAVE TO GIVE IT TIME. JUST KEEP DOING IT."
I’m starting to realize that way of thinking is heavily dependent on the grace of God. Grace gives us the perspective to clearly see how far God has brought us so that we are able to appreciate where we He now has us. Though we may not be “there”, we cannot fail to recognize the progress that has and is taking place within us. We may not fully look like Christ yet but we surely don’t look like our B.C. selves either -- and that is something to rejoice over! When we consciously choose to remember what God has done in our lives, we will begin to exchange our hopelessness for hope! Scripture says, “He who began a good work is faithful to complete it in you” (Philippians 1:6).
God is too faithful to leave us dry in the dust. He offers us grace as living water to keep us moving forward on the hardest of days. Grace may not change our circumstance, but grace always changes our perspective. Grace will release the pressure of believing sanctification must be instantaneous. We often forget sanctification is a process and while we sometimes feel like nothing in us is changing in the speed in which we desire, we have to be reminded that though we may not always feel sanctification, sanctification is constantly at work in us; continually taking place within the depths of our being.
Its up to us to fight the urge of allowing our frustration to lead us into forgetting the faithfulness of God. What God started -- God will complete, including sanctification. When we consciously make the decision to actively pursue God, He begins to obliterate the old us -- steadily, yet surely as we die to ourselves daily. This does not negate from the fact that we are human and may slip and fall into old ways, because at times we will. But when we do slip and fall into our old ways, God always provides us with new mercies every morning for a fresh new start (Lamentation 3:22-23).
Side note: The enemy would love for us to believe otherwise. The enemy would love for us to live as though survival is dependent on yesterday’s mercies. It’s a lie.
In moments of seeing slow progress in my walk with Christ I‘m always reminded of the red corduroy dress. With each scrub I was closer to the complete removal of gum on my dress even when I didn’t realize it -- I just had to give it time and just keep doing what I had been doing. Likewise with our walk of faith, each day that we actively pursue Christ, we’re becoming more like Christ, even when we don’t see the evidence instantaneously.
Don’t be fooled by what you see and don’t see; how we measure change and how God measures change is oftentimes completely different. We must not disqualify the work that God has not yet completed. Sanctification is not an overnight spell nor is it an Amazon prime package that arrives in two days.
SANCTIFICATION IS A LIFETIME PROCESS OF DYING TO SELF AND BECOMING MORE LIKE OUR CREATOR AND IT REQUIRES US TO LIVE LIFE SATURATED WITH THE GRACE AND MERCY OF CHRIST.
Whatever condition your red corduroy dress is in I pray:
That you accept grace and mercy to no longer grow weary in this journey!
That you choose to have faith to believe that God’s sanctifying work is not solely dependent on you and your works — but this is not an excuse to become stagnant.
That even when you don’t feel God’s sanctifying hand, you have enough faith to believe that He is constantly at work in you!
Faith > Feelings
Trust God and pursue Him and soon you will see the evidence of His faithfulness, despite your feelings. We serve a God who doesn’t sleep. We serve a God who is never dormant. We serve a God who is constantly at work in you and soon there will be a day where there will be no trace of sin or unholiness remaining inside of you.
There will soon be a day where you will be spotless, like the very bride in which Christ is coming back for! In the meantime keep chasing God “...and just give it time...” This relationship is a pursuit, not a sprint. Don’t give up! I am cheering you on!
“Those who are in Christ are new creations. The old has passed away and the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17)