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  • Going With The Gruenings

SLOWLY BUT SURELY

Updated: Aug 10, 2022

Germans have a saying: “Gut Ding will Weile haben.” Translation: Good things take time. I don’t know about you, but waiting is hard. Waiting is especially hard when you are planting things & wanting them to grow. As we are building an intensive counseling ministry here and supporting Biblical Counseling in Germany, we find that we have to have a lot of patience. We are learning that we must prayerfully release things to the God who sees and cares. Only with His Spirit will we be able to remain steadfast, enduring whatever the Lord allows coming in our way.


People often say patience is a virtue, and perhaps from a human perspective, it is. However, God says that patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5,22). What does that mean? It means that you cannot “produce” real patience from within yourself. You may show some constraint and the older we get the better we should be at doing that, but we cannot fake it … not for long. God says, “self-control” is also a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5,23). It’s obvious then that making progress related to waiting is most dependent on our reliance on - and surrender to - God’s Spirit. The next time you pray for patience, pray instead that God would fill you with His Spirit and choose to surrender Him, so he can lead you in the direction He wants you to take.


Same but different


In some of the conversations Deanna and I have had, we have talked about this idea of being missionaries. It’s both strange and exciting at the same time. What I (Dennis) have thought about a few times though is that we are not really different from you. In Christ, we are the same. We are not better or further along or the next level type of Christian. We are the same as you. But we are different in that we have chosen to follow God by going far away, something that not everyone chooses - or better - is called to choose. Let me say it again: there is a difference in what we are doing but it is not a qualitative difference that elevates our faith as compared to yours. Why is this important? This is important because as you read these blogs, you may find yourselves thinking things like, “I wish I had that much faith…” or “Look what they are doing for the Lord…” or other things like it. Yet, the ministry that God has called us to – the ministry of reconciliation (between God and man; see 2 Cor 5) – belongs to all of us and can be practiced anywhere where people live.


There is yet a second reason that I bring this up. I want you to be able to relate to what we are writing about and think about what God may be doing in your life related to these things. We don’t want our journey with the Lord to be about us – it’s about what God is doing here, near, and far away because of the things he is doing in and through us.


Small Steps


Coming back then to the topic of patience and the work we are doing here: While we have waited and continue to wait for some things to be moved along in certain ways, we have seen great changes. For one, we are seeing that our girls are making small steps toward feeling more at home here. While they wouldn’t say wholeheartedly that this is their home and they would want to stay if given a choice, they are settling in a bit more. Small steps are being made. Deanna too has mentioned that in small ways this is feeling more like home. We hung a few more things on the wall that are familiar pieces to us – it makes our house more like home. Again, small steps are being made.


Then there is ministry. I did my first counseling intensive in January. We had to figure out the lodging and the food and the travel arrangements with the counselees, etc. We were able to minister to a pastor and his wife who needed a new perspective on their ministry and the struggles they were facing. It was a delight to care for them and we believe that God was at work at that time. Another small step was being made.


Our church also put on a small group leader training this past weekend where I did all the teaching. It was both exciting and daunting, doing training completely in German after translating a bunch of stuff from English. But again, we saw God bless the work and we felt that yet another small step was being made.


Does God only love grand things?


Humans are masters of comparison. Finances, looks, achievements, even godliness – we love comparing ourselves. Never mind the fact that it is quite detrimental for us to compare ourselves constantly – I’ll leave that perhaps for another time 😊.


When you are asked to wait to see things grow, bloom, and thrive, you can lose hope quickly. When you feel like the work you are doing is only “small beans”, it can be quite discouraging. I think too often we have a wrong view of what God is really pleased by. We believe that it is only the stadiums filled for Billy Graham crusades or the martyr’s life that endured to the end of persecution or the wise scholar who wrote a 3-part commentary that took two decades to finish that honors the Lord. But I think that God neither needs nor cares that much about those big things. Why? Because in any case, it took thousands of decisions from lots of people in a lot of places to make those big things come together.


Let me draw you a picture. We just watched a show on TV that talked about parts of this planet we call home. We were in awe of God’s handiwork, let me tell you. There are these tiny, microscopic things that live in water called diatoms. They are amazing creatures! The problem is, you cannot see them with the naked eye. They are way too small. But you know what, when they feed, they do photosynthesis, creating oxygen. When that is happening, you can see it from space – it is that big. Millions upon millions of those tiny things, all doing the same thing, literally color the ocean a different color. That is a wonderful illustration of what I mentioned above. Each of these individual beings contributes only their own part, however small. But everything together is a wonderful work! Ultimately, it is God who does this and He delights in all of these things. Every little thing we faithfully seek to do every day is ultimately crafted into a giant tapestry; all for God's great glory.


There are multiple examples I could give but I’m going to pick just two things – little things – and I hope they encourage you. First, think of Jesus’ feeding of the 5000 (Mat 14:13-21). What was needed? Surely the disciples thought that a couple of semi-trucks full of food and many tables and chairs, etc. were going to be needed (I’m speaking in modern language). They were expecting the Taste of Chicago to feed those hungry people. But Jesus needed VERY little – five loaves and two fish. What man brought was little – God did the big thing. So, our small work is all God wants. We can rest satisfied.


Second, I was reminded of Hebrews 6:10. We are told, “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” That’s amazingly encouraging. You are loving your SG buddy who’s struggling with a sour relationship at work or you have been caring for a fellow mom who needed encouraging after a long day with little kids while her husband is on a business trip? Those are “works showing love for God’s name in serving his saints.” God ain’t going to overlook those. He sees you. He loves you. He is going to continue to provide for you – no matter how this life and the work may feel to you.



Slowly but surely, we are seeing God move and things are growing. We still need more patience, and we still have to be faithful in our work, but God is the one who will make it all bloom and be a grand display of his great power and glory.


Where do you need to review what God is up to in your life so you can see Him at work? Where are you lacking patience? What work can you continue doing as a sign of faithful love for Jesus? Take a few minutes to think about it – then pray that God would encourage, embolden, and empower you for what’s coming your way next.


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Dontie Kidwell
Dontie Kidwell
Apr 09, 2022

Your descriptions and explanations are so applicable. Those who are ministered and counseled by you and Deanna are very blessed. God uses the both of you as a team, and you five as a family to bless your community in Syke and those who pray and support you across the ocean. I love the example of the diatoms and the impact every little bit makes all together. We are proud to be a part of your "Gruening Team"!

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Jodi Kushner
Jodi Kushner
Mar 03, 2022

Enjoyed the update Dennis. Praying for all of you to be encouraged daily in the big AND small things that he s doing in and through you. Thank you for the reminder to remain faithful in the small things and trust the results to Him. Blessings and hugs to all of you 🤗 🙏🙌

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