Jan 252017

For several years now, we Philadelphia 76ers fans have had to endure The Process. 

We have been told to Trust the Process.  Some have done so wholeheartedly while others loudly objected.  And yet others like myself, have been stuck somewhere in the middle.  For me personally, I agree with the strategic concept of The Process, but thought some elements have been executed too extremely and foolishly.

I’ve written about this once before, but essentially The Process that the Sixers undertook starting in 2013 involved intentionally making player personnel moves for a temporary, yet undetermined, period of time which made it very difficult for the team to win many games.  By losing most of their games, they would receive high draft picks, with the hope that some of those high draft picks would turn into superstar players down the road.  Additionally, they traded for as many other draft picks as they could get, knowing that sometimes even a lower draft pick or two turns into a great player.  So the more picks they collected, the greater their chances were of hitting on another great player.

Joel Embiid has turned into what is looking like the cornerstone of The Process.  The young man from Cameroon was drafted with the third pick of the 2014 draft, and likely would have been the very first pick if not for a broken foot.  That broken foot ended up causing him to miss the entirety of what would have been his first NBA season.  Lamentably, his foot did not heal properly through that lost year and he had to have another significant surgery done on it, causing him to miss the whole next season, too.  Finally, he has healed up and in just a half of season of play, he is showing the potential of being an all-time great.  We Sixers fans collectively hold our breaths that Embiid’s foot can withstand the rigors and poundings of many NBA seasons from a 7’2″, 260 lb. giant of a man.

Embiid has personally taken on the nickname of The Process.  At Sixer games, he is introduced as Joel “The Process” Embiid.  When he goes to the foul line to shoot free throws, the crowd will often break out in “Trust the Process” chants during which Embiid will sometimes play to the crowd to pump up the chants even louder.  This will even happen on occassion on road games where there are numerous Sixer fans in attendance.

Joel Embiid has gone through The Process with the 76ers.  But he has also gone through his own personal Process, stirring him to adopt the name as his own.  During his first year of recovery with the Sixers, his younger brother was tragically killed back in his native Cameroon.  Throughout that first year, Embiid also battled with team trainers and personnel as he struggled to adhere to the instructions given to him for recovery.  These battles and rumors of an undisciplined diet and lack of fitness leaked out through the media.  His reticence to follow the instructions very well may have been the reason for his foot not healing the first time around.  Through these first couple years of struggles, while learning a new city in a country he was also still adjusting to, Embiid contemplated quitting basketball altogether.  Yet he worked through the struggles and became more dedicated to doing the things he needed to do and the fruits of his own personal Process are now starting to show.

Truthfully, we are all a work in process.  God is working in and on each one of us.  Now, I know theological arguments of what exactly sanctification is and its relationship to justification are sometimes quite popular here.  My intent is not to get bogged down in a theological debate.  Despite our varied opinions, I think we can all agree that God doesn’t save us and then just leaves us on our own.  He stays with us and loves us and comforts us and feeds us and instructs us and gives us help in following those instructions and challenges us and disciplines us and all the more.  And through it all, it is quite some process we undergo.  Often times with a collection of varying processes contributing into one big overall process.

The process at times can be incredibly painful.  Other times are filled with great joy and jubilation.  And yet other periods can feel utterly mundane and tedious.  Experiences and emotions and circumstances often spread all across the spectrum.  Some of us may recover from that broken foot and become greatly strengthened and emboldened in our faith.  Others of us may never again have full healing in that foot, or we may keep experiencing other injuries and the only way we make it is because Jesus carries us.  We may sometimes fight the process, likely only to our own detriment.  It is when we say, “not my will but yours be done” where the fruit of the process really comes to bear.

We are told to Trust the Process.  Sometimes we want to completely reject it.  Other times we may mostly agree, but still want to get rid of those things that we see as too extreme or even foolish in our own eyes.  But in our case, the process is not being executed by some smart basketball general manager who still has some faults and blind spots that lead to flaws within the process, if not even potentially causing the whole thing to fail.  No, our process is being carried out by One who is completely knowing and able and righteous and sovereign and loving.  It is not hinging on the luck of getting a draft pick right or a foot holding up to years of pounding.  The process will work for His good purposes, no matter what happens during or within it. 

Trusting the process is not always easy.  It can hurt and sometimes things just don’t seem right or we think we know better.  We don’t understand why God causes/allows some parts of the process to happen and we may never know why on some of them, this side of heaven.  Sometimes we wish God would just step in and fix everything in the current process we’re battling through.  Although it’s not a frequent occurrence, God can and has worked this way, and one day He will ultimately fix it all.  Yet His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.  Until God does come to fix it all, our best recourse is to trust Him and His process.  What better choice do we have?     

  23 Responses to “Kevin’s Conversations: Trust the Process”

  1. Kevin,

    I love this one…well done!

  2. I coached a bunch of kids from Philly this past summer……they all trusted the process 🙂

  3. Coming from someone with a “broken foot,” the Process currently involves screening every single voice who claims to speak for God to see what they REALLY believe. As my dad was fond of saying, “Talk is cheap.” By their fruit you will know them.

  4. Kevin, very good article. So where are the Phillies in The Process? 😉

  5. While I have no trouble with this article, I would also like to say:

    Disillusioned–I support your careful approach.

  6. I hate this article.

    The Panthers and Hornets have both been “in the process” for over 20 years.

  7. what a wonderful post, Kevin… hope that declaration doesn’t jinx it

    “…..Experiences and emotions and circumstances often spread all across the spectrum. Some of us may recover from that broken foot and become greatly strengthened and emboldened in our faith. Others of us may never again have full healing in that foot, or we may keep experiencing other injuries and the only way we make it is because Jesus carries us……” AMEN

    process and event are two terms we’d all do well to get straight in our heads… i say that because we tend to let events – good or bad – call the shots, losing sight of the process that is our life, our whole mortal life…

    i confess to being a sometime NCIS fan – last night’s story centered around a pithy old saw: “when you’re going thru hell, keep going” my problem is when life is a little slice of heaven, i want to stop right there, doesn’t work like that either way, does it? this life is a journey 🙂

  8. I think the Dodgers have been “in the process” for years now! All the money in the world can’t buy a World Series Championship.

  9. Thanks all for the kind words….. except you, Josh. 😛

  10. MLD,

    The Phillies are in the point of the process where they are 2-3 years away from beating the Dodgers in the playoffs again (if the Dodgers are even around the postseason anymore by that point). 🙂

  11. Eh, it’s a good article…”trust the process” is just a sport’s sore spot for me 🙂

  12. Disillusioned,

    We may encounter many voices who claim to speak for God, but whose purposes are opposed to God’s purposes in His process. Even so, God finds a way to redeem those circumstances to still bring about His good purposes. In the meantime, those voices of deception sure make things harder for us.

  13. Bob S & Kevin H —- ouch!!!

  14. For several years I’ve been trusting the process in regard to the Utah Jazz.

    This year the dividends are starting to pay off.

    The reason I was willing to be patient with the process was because the Jazz brought in Dennis Lindsey as GM and Quinn Snyder as coach, both with ties to the highly successful San Antonio Spurs.

    With these guys at the helm both in the executive and bench roles, I’ve been willing to endure the growing/learning years.

  15. “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
    (James 1:2–4 ESV)

    The process has a purpose…for the Christian the trials and tribulations of this world are not simply random, but are crafted for our eternal good and His glory.

    We can “count” it all joy even when it feels more like torture because we can trust the One whose purpose in us is being fulfilled.

    As one in the midst of many painful processes at the moment I have to keep these truths front and center…

  16. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:11

    Key words: FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN TRAINED BY IT. We are not always trained by our hardships. Many times we waste them and don’t grow. We need to be more aware of learning to cooperate with God and grow from our trials.

  17. Bob Sweat (#8): That’s for certain. The Twins one two MLB World Series trophies because of near-flawless defense, good pitching (e.g., Jack Morris’ 10 inning shut-out in 1991), and opportunistic hitting. They were no where near the top in payroll.

  18. here is what i think is God’s “process”

    “But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
    ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:8-9‬ ‭NASB‬‬

  19. Kevin,
    The “voices of deception” are not easily recognizable. Sometimes they’re all wrapped in Scripture that’s been twisted and tortured…

    So so hard to trust the process sometimes…especially believing that these trials are somehow all part of God’s plan.

  20. the miracle is that God’s plan can continue to work even as we go through life and our own process of events, whether by our own foolishness, our position in this fallen, corrupted world’s drama as it plays out – or even because, like Job, God found us worthy of a personal test from the evil one, himself…
    it is a miracle that God’s plan covers all contingencies and it did so before time began here…

    of course, God wanted us healthy and happy and living in a garden of delight with just the perfect right mate… but events changed all that and shame on the prosperity teachers for making us feel that we’ve fallen short because our lives are not all roses and lollypops now

  21. As an aside, John 20:29, it is interesting that prosperity teaching shares its roots with the cult of Christian Scientism. The fruit of both makes you responsible for every bad thing that happens in your life. If you follow these teachings faithfully, you can be rewarded with a wonderfully, guilt-ridden life. Praise God that the truth can set us free from such slobber. Praise God that he made you astute enough to have figured that out.
    Here is a small bit of information on the subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_of_Faith

  22. interesting trail, JM… thank you

    while i do concede to the positive thinkers that our attitude has a great deal to do with our “luck” and i’m all for positive thinking, i don’t think that the Bible would call that “renewing our mind” …
    i prefer to follow the teaching that we renew our minds as we focus on the things of God and we do that most efficiently and accurately by time in the (written) Word – no matter the attempts to downplay its veracity, i think the Book is a miracle – alive and powerful 🙂

  23. John 20:29, Can’t argue with any of that. As the Brits would say, “Jolly Good!’