I must confess at the outset that I am the least qualified person to even think about the topic of patience. Fortunately, when God is involved there is always hope! I am by nature a spontaneous person. I am not a long term planner. One reason I am the way I am is that I hate to plan for something and then have to wait for it to happen. I am simply not a patient person.
Thankfully, this is a part of me that is changing. And this week I would like to take some time and tell you about the things God has brought about in my life to teach me patience. The first way that God has been teaching me patience is in regards to my family. There are millions of things I want to do with my kids but for now I have to wait. My oldest is only 7 and though she is a tomboy she is too young to go backpacking for a week in Colorado! It is just about waiting.
The second area in which I am learning patience is in the area of Christian Ministry. I am of the progressive and more contemporary persuasion when it comes to philosophy of ministry. (Why I am this way is not what I want to discuss here but if you want to discuss it with me you can email me.) My background is very conservative theologically (which I still am) and independent in practice. While I do see the strengths of my background I also see some inherent flaws which I believe need addressing. Thankfully, there are those, in a better position than I, who are moving to make a shift from the current practices to those that more accurately reflect Christ to the culture of the day. Where patience comes into play for me is that this process is painfully slow.
The third and probably the most important aspect of patience that I have been learning is in interpersonal relationships. I am by nature a stubborn person but I have always tried to be very open to the Holy Spirit’s leading when my personal character is in need of change. That is not to say that I always appreciate other’s pointing it out. What does this have to do with patience? Well, this is one of the aspects that God has shown me that I need to change. I am a short tempered impetuous person. I would like to call myself passionate but that would only describe a part of it. I praise God that in His wisdom He has not left me to change in a vacuum. Let me tell you in a little more detail about this aspect of patience in my life.
A few years ago I developed a very intense interest (my wife would have you read that as obsession) in fishing, specifically Bass fishing. If you know me personally you know that one of two topics are sure to come up when you talk to me, theology and bass fishing. You may be wondering what this has to do with patience. And that would be a good question, so here’s your answer; everything! Allow me to explain. Fishing can be a fun, exciting and intense but it is rarely a fast moving hobby. It involves hours of preparation, and a lot of homework. It is true that even a novice angler can have some degree of success when fishing but the ones who consistently catch them have spent long hours preparing to go out and catch them not just fish for them.
I spend most of the winter practicing my casting in the yard at the little targets I can see in the snow. I spend hours spooling reels, cleaning reels and organizing my tackle. It is tedious, tiring, boring and slow work. So how does a guy like me learn to invest time in a hobby like this? The answer is the only characteristic that all fishermen share, Patience. But why? Well, because we believe without investing the time it takes to be ready before we hit the water we will have to do it on the water and get to fish less. And that is where Patience ties in with fishing and the fruit of the Spirit. Belief!
There is only one way to be Patient, and that is to believe that there is something worth being patient for. It was this realization that recently made me think about the fruit of the Spirit to begin with. There is purpose and meaning and use for all of the fruit of the Spirit. But there is also incentive and reward. Faith in God gives us the ability to wait and let Him work. Love from God allows us to love Him and others etc. It is this that is key to the concept of patience. Patience is sourced (as are all the fruit of the Spirit) in God. But only when we believe in Him and trust Him can we truly rest in Him. You see patience is not the ability to just sit and wait, but to give up the care of our hearts and minds and trust that when the time is right He will do what needs to be done. Patience, in a biblical sense, is to simply put our cares at the foot of the cross and trust that God, who has taken care of eternity for us, will take care of everything else too!
And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You. Psalm 39:7