Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, says when God makes a change in the lives of believers they shouldn't expect their transformation to occur overnight.
In his Daily Hope Devotional posted on Wednesday, Warren says God's removal of defects in believers' lives might not be instant, but will instead be a gradual process that happens in steps.
"He (God) doesn't just snap his fingers so that it happens instantly. He does it incrementally," Warren explains.
The Saddleback pastor uses the analogy of a mushroom and an oak tree, saying that, depending on what God is going to do for an individual, it may take a short time — like the growth of a mushroom — or a more protracted length of time, like the oak tree.
"Do you want to be a mushroom or an oak tree?" Warren asks, encouraging believers to consider their lives in the long run and to remember that, as the Holy Spirit does its work, it can exceed their greatest expectations.
"The Holy Spirit will make changes in your life far beyond anything you thought was possible, but they're (the changes) not going to happen overnight.
"My prayer for you is that through the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God, and with support from your small group, you will be more mature, more Christ like, and further along in your purpose one year, five years, and 10 years from today," he says.
Just as Christ makes incremental changes within the hearts of believers which grow them up like oak trees and exceed their expectations, so can He bring unfathomable and lasting peace that passes all understanding. Warren wrote about such peace last month in a three-part series called How to Find Real Peace This Christmas.
He wrote, "You've likely heard about the 'peace that passes all understanding,' but you've probably never experienced it. It's attainable though."
Warren and his wife, Kay, relied on Christ for peace, hope and the incremental reconstruction of their lives after the tragic death of their son, Matthew, in April 2013.
In a 2015 interview with The Christian Post, Kay spoke about Matthew's suicide, saying: "I have a certain hope that God will make all things right and He will rebuild the ruins of our lives."
The following year, Warren said in a video on World Mental Health Day, "We were made for hope. The Bible calls hope the 'anchor of your soul.'"