A Work in Progress

I love feeling finished. Don’t you? Crossing the finish line at the end of a race relieves the burning tension in our legs. Hitting “send” on a big work project releases the weight pressing down on our shoulders. Folding the last towel in our mound of laundry lets us breathe a sigh of relief. It feels good to finish things.

Yet life is seldom so simple and tidy. Relationships require continual effort. Spiritual growth sprouts slowly. Personal change feels like an endless cycle, repeating itself in every new season.

The deeper, richer parts of us are never finished—at least they won’t be completed in this life. So we sift through our differences, cultivate our spiritual soil, and wait for a glimpse of the harvest. In the process we learn to embrace our messy progress as part of God’s design.

The apostle Paul knew well the pains of progress. If anyone could identify with spiritual struggles and private pressures, he certainly knew the frustrations such inner-warfare evokes (Romans 7:7-25). Yet instead of becoming overwhelmed by his shortcomings, he embraced them as a place where God could most evidently reveal Himself and revitalize His servant. Instead of griping about his flaws, Paul gave thanks for them—and not just his own but others’ too.

Following his traditional pattern, Paul opened his letter to the Philippian church in prayer. He gave thanks for their partnership in the gospel and God’s progressive work within them. “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6, emphasis added).

Did you catch that little verb? God will complete us—one day, but not now. It takes Him a lifetime to perfect a person.

From the moment we believe the gospel to the day we draw our final breath, we’re a work in progress. And most days it feels like tilling arid soil and hoeing clotted ground. As the seasons pass and cycles repeat, God works His righteousness deeper into our minds and souls.

Slowly the landscape of our lives begins to change. Love flows out of our cracked places as we exercise it with understanding and discernment. We gravitate toward excellence and the things God esteems. Our lives reveal an inner purity and a clean conscience (Philippians 1:9-10). And little by little, we recognize the progress.

Why does God work so hard on us? Because He recognizes what we often forget—this season is preparation for the next. One day we’ll stand before our Savior as a finished product. God won’t present us to His Son as a half-hoed, half-finished work. But as one perfect and complete, filled to the edge with righteous fruit (Philippians 1:11).

So on days your life looks more fallow than finished, press into the One who promises to keep and complete you. Progress might be messy, but yielding to God’s process produces a rich harvest. With each cycle and season, He sows righteousness deeper within the soul’s soil. Can you imagine His finished work within you? 

Amanda DeWitt is a freelance writer, coach's wife, and mom. She completed her bachelor’s at Dallas Baptist University and holds a M.A. in media and communication from Dallas Theological Seminary. When she's not typing away at her computer, she's chasing her two little boys or watching her husband coach high school football.