I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. (John 15:1)

We live in a culture obsessed with the art of efficiency and the machinery of convenience. Everything is designed for speed, built for the fastest results, engineered to close the gap between where we are and where we want to be.

Everything, that is, except our souls. Cutting through the swirling hype and rushing pace of the world around us, Jesus calls to mind a counter image of what growth and progress look like. He speaks of a Vine and branches and a careful Gardener.

In this organic imagery, the growth of the branches depends on a sustained and persistent connection to the Vine and the cultivating work of the Gardener. Most times growth will occur at a pace that is painfully slow, and you will wonder if anything is even happening. Other times, it will be painfully fast, and you will wonder if you will even make it through. But this always happens according to the wisdom of the Gardener, and not the convenience of the branches.

Convenience has never been a core value of Christianity. Efficiency is not a priority in the process of spiritual formation. Patience, on the other hand, is. There are no shortcuts in this journey. You cannot sidestep the process. You must submit to it. Surrender yourself to the cultivating presence of the Father, Son, and Spirit.

Submit to the pace of the process.

Matt LeRoy is coauthor of The Way Forwardand Awakening Grace(WPH).