Once upon a not-so-long-ago time, I would attempt to drag my little kiddos along on essential errands. Preparing to navigate the aisles of Target, I'd tickle them and slip a little "patience" in their pockets. It was invisible and magical. And when the whining and fussing started, I'd peer into their worn out faces and ask them, with all the cuddly humor and kindness I could summon, to find that extra patience in their pockets. Sometimes it could buy me a whole extra 12.7 seconds (about what it would take me to maneuver that monster kid-carrying cart to the checkout aisle and steel myself for their pleas for candy).
I've often wished that amidst the Target aisles, I could find a sizable stash of patience — wrapped in convenient single-dose packets and packaged in a pretty box with a satin bow.
While Target disappoints in the pursuit of patience, God does not. Think of all the forbearance God showed to Jonah, who preferred to run to the opposite end of the earth than follow God's direction to preach in Ninevah. Think of God's tolerance with Israel, when time and time again the people turned from him to worship neighboring gods. Think of God's patience with us, today. We wander. We get distracted. We screw up. Yet God is always there for us, waiting for our attention, waiting with forgiveness for our return to our Heavenly Father.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
And just as God is eternally patient with us, he continually has patience to give us. What a gift! I love this powerful explanation of developing patience, found in The Message.
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us — set us right with him, make us fit for him — we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus.
There's more to come: we continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary — we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Romans 5:1, 3-5
Today let's take some slow and prayerful moments to get our daily dose of Vitamin P. Exit the freeway of this day's frenetic activity. Pull over to the side of the spiritual road; park here and rest for a moment. And be still before the Lord.
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I adore the fact that you are patient, through and through. You see all that I do and all that I do wrong, yet your love never fails. You never give up hope for me to grow in my faith. You hold eternity in your hands, you are in this relationship for the long haul, and you wait with love and understanding.
Help me to remember this perspective of yours: that this day and its earthly stressors shall pass, but your heavenly kingdom is forever. I confess that I often get sucked into stress. I fall short in the patience department. Forgive me for the times that I snap to judgments or snap with words that hurt. Forgive me for the times that I want to hit "fast-forward" and hurry past the hard parts of life. Forgive me for the times that I don't have the patience to step out of a situation and pray to you.
But I am here, praying to you now. I am so grateful to know you are listening, caring, and loving me through my impatient times. In those moments of intolerance, Lord I ask you to help me to seek your stillness before I reach for my rushed reactions. I ask that you give me deep breaths instead of clenched fists, that you put prayers in my mouth instead of punishing words. I ask that you plant love, compassion, and understanding in my heart to crowd out any frustration, bitterness, and impatience. Please help me to practice your patient ways — being still, breathing deep, praying persistently, loving continually — so that day by day your patience grows in me.
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