Recently a friend shared with me a column from the July 1 Victoria Advocate, written by Dave Sather, a financial planner. The article extolled the virtues of compound interest.
You see, saving for retirement is more than simply knowing what stocks or mutual funds to invest in. Saving for retirement is about time and consistency. If you begin early and regularly put money aside, even if it isn’t very much, the compound interest will make the money grow exponentially.
As he says, “If you merely say, ‘I want to be a millionaire tomorrow,’ the odds are heavily against you. However, if you save a modest amount of money every paycheck for 30 years, the power of compounding will allow you … monumental payoffs.”
In his article, though, Sather proposes that the same principle is true in other areas of life – health, exercise, education. Success and achievement rarely come quickly or overnight. They are the result of dedication and discipline. They are the result of small investments made daily – 20 minutes of cardio or 30 minutes of reading a day. The compounded product is always exponential.
Exercise every day for a week; you will see modest results. Exercise daily over a lifetime, and you can add years to your life.
The reason I mention Sather’s excellent column is the principle is also true for our spiritual life. Many people run to church when they are struggling or hurting. They want to find peace and guidance. They want God to change the circumstances in their lives or to give them the strength to make the changes.
So they pray. They go to church but soon are disappointed. They don’t feel like it makes any difference. They don’t see any change. They quickly give up on God.
They give up because, like the 20-year-old who spends half his paycheck on lottery tickets, they want to get results right away. They don’t understand that God works through time and consistency.
When you go to church looking for your life to be changed in 60 minutes, when you look for hurricanes of emotions and exponential growth, you are misunderstanding how the Holy Spirit works.
Yes. God can work wonders. His word is powerful and changes hearts. At times, one service or one sermon can change your life.
But usually, God works more slowly on our hearts. The Holy Spirit usually doesn’t blow us over with hurricane-force winds but rather speaks to us in the gentle whisper of his word. His word isn’t a flood that suddenly overtakes us but rather a slow drip that reshapes our hearts over time – like the slow, running waters that formed the Grand Canyon.
My point is, if you want to change your life, if you want the strength and peace God gives, if you want to see exponential growth in your faith and spiritual life, the key isn’t jumping around between churches trying to find the one that will blow you away and change your life forever in one worship service.
The key is consistency. The key is time. The key is quietly dedicating a portion of every week – of every day – to hearing God speak to you through the gentle whisper of his word. It may not be as exciting or overwhelming as we think we need, but it will change your life forever.
Faith grows slowly, compounded daily as you take the time to receive deposits from God’s word. Such an approach to our faith-life takes discipline and patience, but as Dave Sather says, “The power of compounding will allow you … monumental payoffs.”