Trust in the Slow Work of God

By The Reverend Dr. Katie Snipes Lancaster

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin said, “Above all, trust in the slow work of God.”  Parenthetically, he was a Jesuit priest, French philosopher, paleontologist, and geologist, so this piece of wisdom comes from a man deeply embedded both in things spiritual and things physical. For me, coming back from maternity leave, I begin the fall with this phrase on my heart. While the fall began with a bustling of activity, it is in the slow quiet moments that God emerges.

A parent wrote me this week saying how grateful he was watching his children growing up in the church, and that the fall choir retreat has marked year after year of growth. A daughter told me how much of a gift it has been watching her family come by her mother’s hospital bed to say their last goodbyes and share stories of her mother’s life. A colleague remarked how much deeper her ministry is now that she has been there for a while. To me, all these remarks point to the truth of God’s slow work: it might be quietly unfolding day after day, but it is only in looking back over the months and years that the full picture of God’s goodness is revealed.

As 21st century people, we tend to want to rush and see results. We are like Veruca Salt in Willy Wonka, “I don’t care how, I want it now.” Even with our spiritual lives, we are more than impatient to see God’s handiwork. What might it look like if you were to “trust in the slow work of God”? Would you take more risks? Would you set different habits? Would you stick with something challenging? Would you trust God differently?

This fall at Kenilworth Union Church, you have a chance to dive into the slow work of God. Worshiping every week, learning about the Reformation on Monday nights, hosting a refugee family, supporting post-hurricane disaster relief, teaching Sunday School, running around at youth group, attending First Wednesdays: these all allow God to meet you in community, to tend to you in prayer, to surprise you in deeper knowledge, to challenge you through sacrifice, to delight you in song. Join us this fall. Join us, and meet God in the slow unfolding of mystery and goodness.