Tag Archives: Patience

Practicing Patience

Advent
December 7, 2017

Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 3:8-15a

 But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed. –2 Peter 3:8-10

Patience is one of the fruits of the spirit outlined in Galatians 5:22-23 depending on which translation you use: patience (NRSV), forbearance (NIV), longsuffering (KJV). I must confess I rather identify with the King James’ longsuffering because my patience does not come naturally but is most often forced on me by things out of my control. Over the years, I learned, however, that patience is a good thing to have.

An older friend born in Germany shared that for the longest time as he learned English he translated the English words spoken to him into German in his head to understand them, making his response time somewhat slow. Even after being in the USA for 40 years, he still occasionally did that. Patience is rather like that, at first when it is intentional. We must practice patience to make it meaningful when it does not come naturally to us until it does.

C. S. Lewis in his book Four Loves describes a pesky neighbor who drove him crazy with some of her idiosyncrasies. His first reaction was to avoid her if at all possible. In so doing he was struck wondering how his behavior fit with God’s command to love his neighbor as he loved himself. Since he could not make himself love her, he decided the next best thing was to treat her as if he did and so he began treated her as he did other neighbors he loved. One day after an encounter with her, he realized that he had truly learned to love her as God calls us to love one another. Intentionally practicing patience works.

Prayer:  Lord, shower those of us for whom patience is a quest with your spirit enabling our ability to grow in patience. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Wait on the Lord

Lent
March 29, 2017

Scripture Reading: Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
   to the voice of my supplications!

 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
   and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
   more than those who watch for the morning,
   more than those who watch for the morning. Psalm 130:1-2, 5-6

I inadvertently did something recently that caused some hardship to a woman for whom I hold the highest regard. Part of the reason I respect her so much is she does not sweat the small stuff. When I apologized to her she was more than gracious, a good role model to be sure. She has learned the art of waiting for the Lord. She has been a justice advocate for years with a primary interest in the environment. I wonder if her years of working the soil led to her steely forbearance.

We waste a lot of time and energy being vexed by the small stuff, in the church and in government. Such diversions serve the purpose of draining us from attaining our real purpose. Some may be out of our control, like storms that knock out utilities. Others, I fear, are intentional. The religious leaders of the first century were constantly accosting Jesus about issues such as what constitutes working on the Sabbath to distract him from his peace through justice teachings. He insists we love people we do not want to love and share power when we would rather be in control.

Lifting our concerns to God, particularly the petty ones, before we throw them in another’s face is the beginning of patience. Crying out of our depths to God, those things that are vexing us might give us light on how silly some of them really are and thus are best left with God. However, in those times when the world seems truly to be spinning out of control, God will reflect to us any actions we are called to take and be with us throughout any ordeal. I love the ending of John 16 when Jesus says, But take courage; I have conquered the world! It not only indicates his commitment to guiding the world, but each of us as individuals. He can and will make us each whole in a fragmented world.

Prayer: Lord, grant us each the courage to trust you to lead us in the way we should go and grant us the patience to wait for those instructions. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the new Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights are reserved.

Patience is a Virtue

patience-trust-faithAdvent
December 8, 2016

Scripture Reading: James 5:7-10

Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Patience is one of the gifts of the Spirit. It does not come naturally to me. I think the King James version of the Bible uses a better word when applied to me: longsuffering. I have learned over time to level out my goal-oriented nature with a process orientation. What James describes in our scripture today is the process of growing crops: prepare the soil, plant the seeds, clear the weeds, water and feed the earth, and finally, harvest. I must confess I do processes with little goals. Preparing the earth is a little goal. We do need both kinds of people, the goal oriented and the process oriented. Nothing might every get done if all were process oriented, and major steps might be left out if the goal oriented dominated the world.

James perhaps is saying something else too. The plan is God’s. We take great comfort in knowing that we serve an omnipotent, omnipresent God who holds our best interest to heart. Patience involves resting in that knowing.

Prayer: Lord, you know all our natures and understand our frustrations. Forgive us when our expectations get ahead of your plan or when we drag our feet when called to take the next step in its implementation. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized 
Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council 
of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights 
reserved.

Hope in the Lord

hope_rises_Living in the Spirit
August 5, 2015

Scripture Reading: Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
   Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
   to the voice of my supplications!  

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
   Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
   so that you may be revered.  

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
   and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
   more than those who watch for the morning,
   more than those who watch for the morning.  

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
   For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
   and with him is great power to redeem.
It is he who will redeem Israel
   from all its iniquities.

I am not a patient person. When I wait on the Lord, I fear, I do not do it with as much hospitality as God desires or deserves. My guess is when I am waiting on the Lord to do what I want, the Lord is waiting on me to figure out what I want is neither just nor right for the situation at hand. At the point I perceive the fallacy of my way, God shows me a better way.

As one who spent most of my career facilitating long-range planning, I learned early that there are as many ways of accomplishing something as there are people charged to make it happen. I usually had clear vision regarding plans to address issues about which I did not have a personal stake and could help the people involved see the ways they could weave their diverse approaches into productive outcomes. It is often our personal stakes that foster impatience and the need to wait on God in the first place. Those personal stakes may be spot on. After all, the people who know the subject matter better than most are the ones working to address it. Implementing change to bring about justice, however, does not occur in a vacuum. Change would not be necessary if we all shared the same viewpoint on an issue. Implementing change demands our seeing the world from a broader perspective.

When we turn to God and wait patiently for God to open our hearts and minds to a better way, we will find our hope in God’s love is well invested.

Prayer: Lord, help me to see and remove the log in my own eye limiting my vision toward understanding your way in working with others. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Give me Patience Now!

God's willLent
February 27, 2015

Scripture Reading: Romans 4:13-25

No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, being fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. Therefore his faith ‘was reckoned to him as righteousness.’ Now the words, ‘it was reckoned to him’, were written not for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be reckoned to us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was handed over to death for our trespasses and was raised for our justification. – Romans 4:20-25

Do we have faith in God or not? I must confess I am stunned by legislation that is drafted, considered, and sometimes made into law that purports to do what the author seems to think God cannot do without the help of a civil law. Isn’t that interesting? Are we wasting precious moments of our time devoted to God doing futile things that may only cause more division? Is it more important to us to prove that God is on our side than to demonstrate that we are on God’s side?

Our scripture continues today Paul’s analysis of Abraham’s faith. Abraham was convinced that God was able to do what God had promised. Now that is faith. In all honesty Abraham did not live to see the culmination of God’s promise, but he knew it would happened. The sure and certain knowledge of God’s fidelity is the anchor we need in the chaotic seas of our world today.

This does not mean that we are to sit back and do nothing while we wait for God to make all our problems go away. Jesus instructed us to love God, love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and to go into all the world and make disciples. Let’s just commit ourselves to doing those three things over the next few years and see what God can do when we are on God’s side.

Prayer: Lord, I want to wave a magic wand and make all evil go away, I want to end poverty and child abuse, I want to bring justice to the oppressed and assure that mercy is made available for those who need it, I want to shut down the pipeline to prison, and open the doors of opportunity for all our children, and I want it now! Grant me the measure of the patience of Abraham, the persistence of Hannah, the courage of Esther, the vision of Isaiah, and the love of our Lord Jesus Christ I need to fulfill my role in loving you and my neighbors and making disciples. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Living on God’s Time

God's timeAdvent
December 15, 2014

Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, ‘See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.’ Nathan said to the king, ‘Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.’  

But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? — 2 Samuel 7:1-5

David was an “A” type, always busy, probably goal oriented. One project is done, now on to the next. He actually got into the worst trouble recorded about his life when he was not on the battlefield with his soldiers but back at the palace looking out over the city biding his time. When the story in our scripture today occurred, David had just returned the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem so it is easy to understand why he might have thought it a good idea to construct a permanent home for the Ark.  Apparently Nathan, the prophet, thought it was a good idea too. After some reflection and most likely prayer, though Nathan, had a change of heart and credited it to the word of the Lord. The temple was not built under David.

Why do you suppose this scripture in included in the readings for Advent? As we wait, somewhat impatiently for the coming of the Christ child we are reminded that the Kingdom of God runs on God’s time. We are held to a high standard of seeking out God’s will for our actions. It requires us to be in constant communion with God. And I do not know about you, but it requires for me a generous dose of the spiritual gift of patience because I came equipped with a very limited supply.

During this holiday season everything seems to be on fast forward. Stores are crowded. There is not enough time in the day to get everything we need to get done accomplished. Even the good things that for many are a normal part of this season, helping the poor, for example, become just one more task to check off a list that gets longer and longer. We need to slow down take a deep breath and spend some quality time with God and let God order our lives.

Prayer: Source of Time Itself, order our lives so that we are fulfilling our purpose and your will. Show us what our real priorities need to be and help us make the changes in our lives that sets us on the better path. Amen.

All scriptures are quoted from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of American. Used by permission. All rights reserved.