During this long period of uncertainly in our lives, many of our friends have been praying for us. About a month ago, a friend of mine asked me how things are going. “Well,” I replied, “God is moving glacially.” He chuckled out loud, paused for a second, and then said, “Yes, guess that’s true.” His response intrigued me, so the next time someone asked me how things are going I replied the same way...and I received almost the exact same reaction. Over the next few weeks I noticed that this phrase caused nearly everyone to laugh, stop and think, and then agree that it’s an accurate description.
The similarity of their reactions caused me to spend a little more time musing and thinking about the implications of the adverb, “glacially.” (It’s scary that I know to call it an adverb, isn’t it? Credit “School House Rock” for that one!) We’ve all experienced it in one way or another, I think; and the more I think about it, the more I realize how this descriptor is really true of how God works.
The first thing that I’d like to note in “Glacier 101” is that glaciers move S---L---O---W---L---Y. Honestly, that’s the reason I chose the word in the first place! When most people think about glaciers, they think of a huge, slow moving chunk of ice. The fastest moving glaciers move at a pace of approximately 20 - 30 meters a day (about the length of an 18-wheeler). A more common pace is that of about 2-3 meters per day (about the length of a couch), but some glaciers move so slow that it’s difficult to even measure.
There are two things we can learn from the glacier’s movement. First, is that beneath the surface the ice is reshaping and reforming the landscape. Glaciers carve some of the most beautiful places on earth! Through erosion and abrasion they pick up sediment, rocks, etc. and move it from one place to another; they also carve and smooth out other sections of land. In a manner that we can neither see nor measure, they adjust and rearrange vast quantities of the landscape into veritable works of art. Is there a parallel to our lives that can be found here? Uhm….Yes! :)
The second thing that we can notice about the glacier’s speed is that it is most often determined by the amount of friction. Friction, as you know, is caused when two objects rub against one another. Anyone who as ever slid down a slide at a park knows that greater amounts of friction create slower speeds. Less friction, faster movement. When it comes to God reshaping and carving our lives, friction plays an important role in that process. Now, please don’t hear me say that if you decrease friction w/ God then He’ll move faster. I wish it were that easy; but God cannot be controlled! He will do what He is going to do, and He will work His purposes according to His will. What I believe, however, is that the amount of friction you create will make it SEEM like He’s moving faster or slower. The closer you are to Him and the more you delight in Him and in His work, the process will not seem so long. It may take a while, and it may feel like it takes a while, but it will go much faster than if you fight Him every step of the way. It’s that temporal phenomenon that happens with good things and bad things: vacations seem to be over before they start, but an afternoon at an unpleasant job can seem to last forever! I believe that the same thing applies to God’s work in our lives. The time it takes for Him to accomplish His purposes remains constant; but our focus and degree of participation determine how long it “feels” like.
Are you experiencing a “Glacial God” right now? Perhaps recently? Are you frustrated by His seemingly slow pace? It’s natural for us to desire quick work...we’ve been conditioned that way! So if God seems to be moving slowly right now, let me encourage you to find joy in Him. Remember, “joy” isn’t necessarily “happiness.” Ask Him to cause His joy to live in you through His promises that He’ll “never leave you nor forsake you,” (Deut. 31:8) and that His plans for you are to “prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). From a fellow sojourner, I know it's not pleasant or easy to wait...but if you hold on the results will be worth it!