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?