Trust the Process

In 2014, the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers drafted Joel Embiid as one player who would be a part of their rebuilding plan, with the ultimate goal of putting a team on the court who would eventually win the championship. Embiid had a rough start to his pro career, with foot and knee injuries sidelining him for the first two years, but has since shown himself to be one of the league’s top players [named to the All-Rookie team when he finally got to play, a five-time All-Star, and three-time member of the All-NBA team].

      Early in his pro career, he took on the nickname “The Process” as a dig at the NBA for forcing out the 76ers General Manager Sam Hinkle, who was in charge of the team’s rebuild. Fans and League members complained that Hinkle was instructing the team to “tank” [purposefully lose games] to get a higher draft pick the next year, but Embiid had bought into “The Process” plan of slowly rebuilding the team, and took every opportunity to remind anyone who listened to “Trust the Process.”

      Well, the 76ers were ousted from the NBA Playoffs again this year, so there won’t be a Championship in Philadelphia just yet; “The Process” is still ongoing, but the theory, for many, will not be proven until they do win it all. Meanwhile, Embiid [and others] will still be repeating the phrase, “Trust the Process” until they do.

      It is not just the Philadelphia pro basketball team that has trouble convincing people to be patient and “Trust the Process”; in other areas of life, people get impatient and want results now or they begin to complain. What is needed, quite often, is patience and a measure of trust in the ones in charge, or who can affect the outcome. The same is true even when we consider some spiritual matters. Consider:

      The Organization and Work of the Church. The Lord’s church, as seen in the New Testament record, looks nothing like what is most often seen in today’s world. In the beginning, Christ established that the local church would be comprised of believers who would meet on a regular basis, who were led by a plurality of elders (1 Tim. 3:1-7), served by deacons (1 Tim. 3:8-13), and who would meet for the purpose of remembering the Lord’s death in the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week. The elders had the responsibility of overseeing the members of that local group, and only that local group (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2; Heb. 13:17). The work Christ gave the local church to do was something within their abilities, and we read words of praise for those who were doing it and doing it well (1 Thess. 1:2-10). Christ did not expect the believers to do more than what they were able, and His intent worked just as it was intended when the believers adhered to His plan for the local church’s organization and work.

      Man has not been satisfied with Christ’s plan, however, and has changed both the organization and work of the local church, and even its scope. Man created offices within churches Christ never intended or wanted, and has expanded the local church’s work and purpose, making it something Christ would not recognize should He see it today [and He does see it]. Quite often, the excuse given for making these changes is that the church, as Christ established it, is “outdated” and “ineffective in the modern world.” Many times, the organization is changed and/or expanded because, men argue, the original plan “doesn’t work in the modern world” or — worse — that it is “insufficient to accomplish its work.”

      Once you get over the arrogance and audacity of mortal men to call Christ’s plan and organization “insufficient” or “ineffective,” we might want to take a big step backwards and think about what we are saying. Do we — mortal men with extremely limited knowledge and absolutely zero foresight — think we know better than the all-knowing and supremely-wise God? Maybe we have become so full of ourselves we forget just who it is that established the church, whose church it is, and who died and shed His blood for it.

      If we truly think we know better than God or Christ, now would be a good time to pause, think about what we are saying and doing, and just trust the process. We do not have the knowledge and foresight God and Christ have, and our plans are made with inferior knowledge and wisdom that has led to religious confusion and division that should have never occurred. It is beyond foolish to jump the gun and assume the problem is in Christ’s plan, when any perceived failures are always — always — a result of our own errors and shortcomings. The ‘problem’ is not Christ’s plan; the problem is always us; we are not doing things as He commanded, when he said it is to be done, or how it is to be done, and then we blame His plan for the times we don’t see the results we think should be seen. Trust the process.

      God’s Plan for Our Salvation. Have you ever studied the Bible with someone who is not a believer, or someone who claims to be a believer, only to have them say something along the lines of “I just don’t see why God said I need to [fill in the blank]”? Maybe they don’t see why God says all men must repent (Acts 17:30), or why water baptism is a necessary part of our obedience where sins are washed away (forgiven; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16; Col. 2:11-13; 1 Pet. 3:21). Maybe they don’t think they should join with fellow believers as a part of a local church (Heb. 10:24, 25) or tell others about their faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 10:9, 10; 1 Pet. 3:15).

      Again, it just may be that these reservations exist because some have been taught error, or are using human wisdom and reasoning, or maybe that they just don’t want to do those things because they are uncomfortable telling others about Jesus or identifying certain behavior as ‘sinful’ and don’t want to be known as one of those ‘Jesus Freaks.’ Maybe they just don’t truly understand why these things are as they are and, to be honest, some of those things God has given us to do cannot be explained in terms human reasoning can comprehend.

      But that is the problem: We are thinking along the lines of human reasoning and thinking. Paul noted to the Christians in Corinth, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). The HCSB renders it this way: “But the unbeliever does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.” The reality is, when we try to understand, or even explain, God’s ways by using human wisdom, it will never be understood. It is not until we begin thinking and explaining in spiritual terms that it will become clear. Until then, we need to trust the process. God’s way is sufficient and effective, even when we don’t think so or understand how or why. Trust the process.

      And I understand that, for many who may be reading this, trust is a difficult thing to do because [again] we are still thinking of God in human terms and with human limitations. God is not like man, however, and the better we get to know Him, the easier it will be to trust Him. Those who know Him best are the ones who have trusted the process enough to keep taking those steps of faith, knowing all God has given us is for our good, and there is nothing unknown we need to know.

            Trust the process.        — Steven Harper