The difference some patience could make
They say that patience is a virtue. They say that good things come to those who wait. “Just be patient” we urge people in the absence of anything more cheery or concrete to offer. In reality, however, we are not a society that does patience very well. Of course, we concede, it is a necessary evil sometimes, but generally it is an inconvenience to be avoided if at all possible. Like Adam Sandler in the film ‘Click’ we would rather fast forward to the end of the argument, or to the desired promotion and simply skip over the ‘waiting patiently’ scenes as quickly as possible. Interestingly that tactic doesn’t work out too well for Sandler’s character!
Using a prayer app on my phone this morning I was encouraged to pray for patience for the NTV (a prayer point, I hasten to add, selected from a general list by the app!) and was delighted by the picture of contentment and peace that it painted.
It urged us to start by focussing on God’s patience with us – patience in the face of both our weakness and our outright obstinacy. To gaze on it and to reflect it in our day to day lives.
I don’t know about you, but I am already feeling better!
In contrast, the graffiti that impatience scrawls across our lives is much less appealing. Consider where we end up when impatience is in the driving seat: quick to complain, accelerating towards anger, and rapidly blaming any one (even God) for the slightest disturbance to life the way we want it.
So why be patient? Well that’s easy – because our eternal Father God is and because he commands it of his children. And, like all his commands, because it is good. So let’s put on the breaks and pray for God to cultivate his fruit in our lives. Imagine the peace that would ensue from having the self control to be patient. Picture the patience that would flow out of a peace that reigned strong in your hearts and minds. What gentleness and love and kindness would become possible? How our faithfulness to the Lord and his ways would blossom? How well equipped we would be to suffer well the bumpiness of life. What joy could be ours.
So let’s take a bit of time to be patient – even if, like Mr Brown in the recent Paddington film, we need to “do the breathing” and have a “turning away face”. We could always turn away to look at our patient Father, and breathe out pleas to him for his help!
So what’s the rush?
Stop and ask yourself – what is it that I am hurrying towards? If we are getting impatient our main problem is probably not how how long it is taking us to arrive, but where it is we want to go and why it is so important to us to get there. So instead of staring at the speedometer and getting frustrated take a look at the road you’re on and check the destination on your sat-nav! So often we are impatient because we are hurrying to get our way, to get where we want to be without further interruption, to get other people out of our way. We are hurrying because we know best and so, at speeds to be envied by Lewis Hamilton, impatience drives us directly to the capital city of our natural selves – self love.
…if we are lovers of God and not lovers of self – there just is no hurry. We can press on to take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of us. We can strain towards what is ahead, not dawdling on the way. We can eagerly long for the return of Christ… But we need to do all of that remembering that God’s speed limit applies. The opposite of dragging our feet along the way is patient perseverance NOT impatience. Try as we might we’re can’t go any faster than God’s perfect timing allows. How much better to submit to it, trust his ways and pray for the patience to enjoy and endure the ride!