Practicing Patience Makes Patience More Perfect

IMG_0140For Lord’s Day, November 3, 2013

Dear Saints,

Arrghhhh!!!!!  That’s what came out of my mouth on a Monday morning recently, with my head in my hands.

Somehow, I mistakenly deleted my morning sermon that I had put up on our SermonAudio page early so folks who were home-bound on the Lord’s Day could listen and stay with us through the series on Exodus.  Monday morning, I read their gracious email pointing out that it turned out to be the message from the week before I had uploaded (which they were there for)! No problem, I’ll reload the correct one … wait a minute, the other one doesn’t … exist!  Arrgggh! No, say it ain’t so! I had just edited and saved it yesterday!  Apparently in the trash bin I had already emptied.

When this kind of thing happens, I “re-preach” the sermon (or re-teach the Wednesday night Bible study) non-live and publish it.  This was a particularly inconvenient week for me to do so, hence my “Argghhhh!”  I had to rush to a business meeting for the Church up north that morning, with other pressing administrative things I’ve been trying to catch up on with my Monday’s for a month or so now on my mind.  When I got back from the meeting several hours later, I sat down in a good mood ready to re-record, edit, publish, and then get about my busy work.

Argghhhh!  Noooo!!!  I could not find my recording unit to do the recording!  Why?  It was in my bag, which I had left at the Starbucks a half an hour north where my meeting had been!  Nooooo!!!!  I drove back to get it and ended up recording the message in the back of my van, then publishing it from Starbucks while soothing my soul with a wonderful pumpkin spice latte (I went with the smallest size, per recent moderate/immoderate use of good things sermons — that’s a “Grande”, right? I can never remember).  My day was shot. And my patience was tested!

But that’s what I learned from the day. I had asked God that morning before the meeting to help me trust His sovereignty when I first learned of my foolish deletion of the sermon (Yes, that was after the “Arrrghhhs!”). Naturally, I felt silly about it. It’s not that big of deal. But the small stuff when you’re busy seems like feathers on camel’s backs, ay?  My mind was quoting Romans 8:28, but my guts were saying, “What possible good is this for me right now!?”  Well, shortly thereafter, I believe God reminded me of His purpose.  I just had to accept the situation and have more patience and trust God it would all work out, if not according to my timeline, certainly with His.

And then it hit me, what good is this self-inflicted mishap? Well, certainly to teach me more humility, I know that.  But I realized, if I could accept this disappointment and role with my punches upon myself, God would teach me more patience. He would give me more patience. That’s a pretty good deal, really, when you think about it.

We often joke that we ask God to give us more patience, and to hurry it up.  Well, that’s never how we get patience.  We always get it more by having to be patient, by having to learn patience.  There are no cliff notes or video versions for skimming through this book of virtues. Patience bears out patience, over time, plain and simple.  And patience truly is a gift from God, so all things are working for my patience if nothing else, and that is always good.

This I found to be a really helpful notion.  Any time I’m stuck in traffic, stuck on a sermon, stuck on myself (did I just say that out loud?) — whatever has me challenged with accepting God’s providence even in the little things, I can stop and remember I am in the process of becoming more patient. There’s never a time where that can’t be the case, if I will learn to be a good student of Providence.  Knowing I can grow in patience in a difficulty I will only understand later helps me have resolve and peace in the moment, and … more patience! And I like being more patient. And God wants that to be perfected in us all, all the time.

Revelation 1:9 says we are companions in tribulation and the kingdom and …  wait for it now … patience.  Remember, we learned from a special video stemming from that Revelation study that patience is made up of two words in the Greek that basically mean to “remain under” or “bear under”.  To remain under the pressure and keep on keeping on. We get better with that over time. And it is always a good thing God works in us as a result.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.  (James 1:2-4)

As I write about this, I have never caught up from that Monday morning — which was nearly two weeks ago. In fact, you might have noticed I didn’t get out a weekly e-devotion last week, when I intended to write this message for you. Have I been perfectly patient? No.  But God has been working a more perfect work of patience in me, and with this lesson on my mind, I’ve realized what an incredible gift this is.  So even as I don’t feel like I have time to write this, patience has helped me to do so.  And it ministers to me as I write; I hope it does to you (God always provides what needs to get done for today, even if we get a little tired in the process).  So every time I am in a situation I don’t like and don’t understand, I can sit back, relax, and enjoy the growth — in patience.

Oh yeah, that joy thing James speaks of with having to be patient in all things?  When I had to go back and get my bag that day, I was laughing with Jennifer about it, saying, “Well, I thought I had learned the lesson for a nice e-devotion this week, but I guess God wants to give me more humorous anecdotes to share to drive home the point!”  It was nice to be able to laugh it off in the abundant joy of Christ for those who are patient with Him. And I enjoyed being out of my study “caves” and in the San Diego sunshine and breezes for a change. Perhaps I will look less troll-like in a short while (not commenting on my height or hair, nothing I can do about that!).

May you be more patient this week, beloved, and may you laugh more this week, beloved.

Thanks for being patient with this long message (as you are with all my long messages both written and spoken!).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

PS: For those of you patient enough to read through this lengthy message, here are some rewards I found online about “patience”:

  • Patience: use it before you lose it.
  • Patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.
  • Patience allows life time to fall into place.