Friday, April 18, 2008
Patience, just a little bit of Patience
Those of us born in the 70's will remember well Guns and Roses and their hit song Patience. How could you forget that classic? The boys and I have several projects on the go right now. All of them involve patience. First there are the starter seeds we've planted. A few of the seed coats have broken apart allowing tiny green shoots to begin their skyward climb. Another is a tadpole pond we've created thanks to a generous friend who shared her tadpoles with us. Patience. Now why in the world did God have to make that a fruit of the spirit? The expression a watched pot never boils, (i.e. be patient!!) is lost on me. When living in Ontario I was known to go outside and take inventory of my gardens five, maybe six times each day. I knew when those plants breathed. I knew every shoot and weed and blossom and their exact arrival time. I'm so impatient when it comes to waiting for growth. Already I've found myself habitually wandering over to the tadpole pond to see which of their tails is shorter and who might have evidence of leg nubs. The kids laugh because I am more concerned with the growth of our little projects than they are. It's natural to want to see results...to see fruit...to see growth. Those are human tendencies. Listen to Peter's exhortation. "Now, dear friends, do not let this one thing escape your notice, that a single day is like a thousand years with the Lord and a thousand years are like a single day. The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you..." (II Peter 3:8,9) Peter was specifically referring to the timing of Christ's return here, but the point I want to make is about how God views time and the fact that God is patient, period. I am so thankful that God's patience extends to Christ's return thereby allowing more to come to know of His saving power. But I have to be honest with you, I am also extremely grateful that His character is patient period. When I view my life and the lives of those I love I can get bogged down in frustration or disappointment when I fail. Why did I struggle with that sin again? Why can't I just be more gracious? Why am I discouraged? Why can't I be more gentle? But you know what? These are questions that I ask through the lens of temporal life. It's easy to think, I will live a certain amount of time and if the Lord does not return, I will die. So, I may have 50-80 years to get it all together. In that time, I need to have begun to arrive spiritually. God must just laugh. He transcends time. He is the great I AM. He has all the time not just in the world, but in eternity. Literally twelve of our average lifetimes is but a single day in God's economy. I know these aren't new thoughts, but sometimes it's worth reminding ourselves that God knows our frame. He knows we are made from dust and He is far more concerned with the intent of our hearts than he is with how far we think we've come in our walks with him. We serve and love a heavenly Father who's patience finds its source in the reality that time is of no consequence to him. You know how a long summer day can stretch out before you like a cornfield in Ontario? Have you ever spent a day with your children when you had no appointments, no one coming for dinner, no laundry to wash, no floors to mop? That's what God has with us every single day. He has forever, and His only rush is to grip our heart. Incidentally may I just add that I am learning the gripping of my children's hearts is far more important than their conformation to any ideal I may have for them. Daily I am reminded how far from perfect I am, but one thing I know for certain, God's got my heart. And when God's got your heart, growth occurs, my friends. Growth always occurs. Be faithful. Plant God's word in your hearts regularly. Water it. Don't neglect the gardens of your souls, but leave the growth to God. After all, time is in His hands. Perhaps patience isn't so much about having a mild response to every situation and person that comes into our lives. Maybe patience is really about understanding that God has eternity to work out every concern that comes our way. Lord, may we trust our lives to you. Grip us God. Let us be so in love with you that we're entirely willing to allow you to work in our hearts. Help us to be faithful, Lord, and help us to remember that fruit will come as we continue to abide in You. Amen. Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices God desires are a humble spirit O God, a humble and repentant heart you will not reject. Psalm 103:14, 17 For He knows what we are made of, he realizes we are made of clay. But the lord continually shows loyal love to his faithful followers, and is faithful to their descendants.