September 29, 2014
I’ve been thinking this morning about patience. It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and something that we so often joke about.
“Don’t pray for patience or you’re likely to be forced to use it!”
“Lord give me patience, right now!”
There are more, but you know what I mean. Let me ask you; is there anything more peaceful in your life then being able to be patient when the situation demands it? When you know that for a situation to work out – or not – you can do nothing but be patient and you are, isn’t that the greatest feeling?
I’ve not mastered patience yet. I have grown through the years, but I have not mastered it. I’m not sure all the Fruit of the Spirit will ever be completely through growing in my life, but it is encouraging to see growth.
I am 56 years old and I grew up in an era of 3 black and white TV channels, one big black phone for everyone tied to the living room wall, no a gas stove to cook our food on, and I lived in the country miles from (what I felt like was) civilization. That was normal and at that time I couldn’t conceive anything better.
Now we have so many wonderful things, time saving things, and I am so very grateful for them all! I love technology. I enjoy my iPad, my dozens of TV channels on our huge TV, my iPhone, the microwave and so much more! But I believe with all this technology so readily available, we have created an impatient society. With everything so ‘instant’, waiting has become a lost art.
I truly want to be more patient. I’ve see the fruit of it over that past few years and just how sweet that fruit is. One instance was waiting to buy something until just the right time. I waited about 4 years to make a large purchase because I wanted to be patient.
I could have done it at any time during those 4 years, but by waiting until I felt like God said now is the time, I was able to get an amazing deal, it was not a hardship, and the purchase flowed perfectly without a hitch. Also, since the purchase it has been a true blessing and not a hardship the way so many things become soon after we buy them.
Patience and discontentment cannot live together just as faith and fear cannot live together. They compete and war against each other and one will win out over the other.
Discontentment will push you and drive you to do or get something before it is time. It will push you to war against others to get, do and be where you want before you are ready. There is NO peace in discontentment.
I see our children and grandchildren pushing their parents to get or do this or that to satisfy their discontentment and often we give in. We know the discomfort of discontentment and we don’t want them to have to suffer it.
The most fertile environment for patience to grow is in an atmosphere of contentment. In Philippians Paul writes to the church there:
11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.
12 I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want.
13 I have strength for all things in Christ who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].
We often quote verse 13. It seems to give us the strength (motivation) to move forward. But I think what Paul is implying here is that it gives him the strength to stay contently where he is until God provides or moves him.
When was the last time you drew from God’s strength to just be content where you were?
Work is awful and your boss is harsh – you pray to leave rather than to be content. You can stay there with contentment because of God’s strength.
You are barely making ends meet and living paycheck to paycheck – you pray for a windfall to instantly transport you out of financial poverty. You can endure with contentment because of God’s strength.
You are believing for healing and some days the setbacks and pain are unbearable – you pray for an instant miracle so the pain will be over. You can endure with contentment because of God’s strength.
This is not what we want to hear. It is never what I want to hear. But I’ve learned as the Fruit of the Spirit has grown in me, the harvest is of the sweetest kind. Waiting to let God work in you and through you, deciding to be content is often the key to unlocking the door to it all.
I am writing this today because my heart is heavy for a young client of mine. Many of you may not know that I am a Realtor and I get to see people at their most stressed. Buying and selling a home is one of the most stressful situations we will encounter. They often say and do things they would never say or do at any other time. And they often make decisions while under that stress that stay with them for a long time.
This client that I have been thinking and praying for this morning needed to build some credit in order the buy a home. It was simple process that her very good and knowledgeable lender was helping her go through. The estimate was that if she did just what he said to do she would be able to buy a home in 3 short months.
From the very beginning she has had such a driving impulse to buy a home right now that she has been trying to finagle a way and make it happen right now. It is now 7 months later and she still cannot buy a home. Her impulsiveness to check her credit continually to see if it is ready has given her so many hits that she goes two steps forward and one step back. Each time she has her credit checked she loses credit points. And even though she has been told this, her impatience causes her to do it anyway.
Recently we spoke and I encouraged her to wait just 4 more days and she would be ready to buy. But the very next day she insisted her lender pull her credit so she could move forward. But pulling it early cost her.
Now she could by a home, but she no longer qualified to get her down payment paid with bond money because her credit score was too low. So now, because she did not wait 4 short days, she had to come up with several thousand dollars to buy a home. She was just 1 point away which disqualified her and had she waited just 4 short days she would have been fine.
She does not have the money for a down payment. So she can wait to get her score up higher or she can wait to save the money. Either way she is forced to wait even longer. Her inability to be patient has cost her again.
I am so sad for her. She wants a home of her own so badly and I want it for her. But she has to learn to be content and wait patiently.
Don’t we all have stories like this? I know I do and could give you more than I have time to write. So what is the moral to this story today? I think that one of the best gifts we can give the next generation, who is showered with quick technology and ready access to everything anyone could ever want, is to help them learn to be content and to wait patiently.
Maybe the next time they want something right now you help them learn to wait. Let’s start teaching them how to grow the Fruit of the Spirit in their lives. And yes, that would mean growing it in our own lives, for kids learn so well by example.
Remember the next time you want it now, right now, that you can be content because you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens you”.