Day 34 – Patience

My oldest sister, Jenni, always tells a story about when she was little and waiting in line at Disney World. Apparently she wasn’t being very patient, because Snow White bent over and told her “Patience is a virtue little one.”

Can you imagine, Snow White herself telling you to be more patient?

Well I never had a Disney Princess chastise me for being impatient, so maybe that’s the reason I’m such a failure at it.

I’m not sure I believe that God puts challenges in front of us so that we “learn our lesson” (I believe more that he brings good from the bad we have to go through), but it sure seems like He’s gone out of His way to build my patience lately.

The sermon today was even on Patience and I couldn’t help but inwardly sigh. In fact, I felt downright impatient through the whole thing.

Just leave me alone. Patience is overrated.

Perhaps my stubbornness has something to do with my resistance to learning the lesson of patience.

But, I do think patience is related to trust- if we trust the end, we can be patient through the means. And lately I feel that my trust in God has grown by epic proportions. It’s been very, very, very difficult for a girl like me- driven, determined, and goal-oriented to a fault- to let go of control and trust God.

But recently I, at least temporarily, lost pretty much everything that characterized my life a year ago- job, relationships, home, self-confidence- and basically finally accepted the fact that no matter how hard I try, no matter how talented I am, no matter how strong I grow, I do not have control over all that happens in life.

And shockingly, I’m still alive.

And shockingly things just may be going a little better than they would be had I actually had control.

And shockingly I trust just a little more that God really does hold all things in his hands.

Which means that maybe, just maybe, I should be a little more patient about the things I think I want in life.

God’s grace today is in His patience with me, regardless of my lack in patience for him.

 

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7 thoughts on “Day 34 – Patience

  1. Yes. Yes again. And finally, yes. I’m not quite to the “this might be better than my own plan” part yet, but other than that, I agree. And I fully expect that I will agree totally at some point in the future. In the meantime, here’s to those of us struggling to hold on, even though God never lets us go.

  2. Krista, there is a passage in the Bible that says God is kind to the righteous and the unrighteous. That kindness God has towards people in general is often misunderstood as being grace however, while it is gracious and certainly is an ‘unmerited favor’ I doubt this kindness is the grace you are really longing for. As I read your posts I think what you are really looking for is that grace which the early believers had and which Jesus had which was described as something more and different than God’s common kindness towards people. But before I say anything else you may correct me if I’m wrong, it’s quite common for people to just want God to be indiscriminately kind to them regardless of anything else.

  3. Well, when I recognize God’s kindness towards me, much like what you are sharing that you have been noticing, I call it his kindness, patience, gentleness, long suffering, or love. Sometimes I call his providence his sternness, (I have been disciplined and have seen others disciplined too) but generally I don’t call his general kindness to people ‘grace’. The reason is, grace is a term he uses to describe a particular way he treats people he favors because of their goodness. For example, ‘Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord because he was a righteous man.’

    Because Noah was righteous, God talked to him about how to save his life and his family by building an Ark. Had not God told him what to do, Noah would have had no idea that God was about to flood the Earth. That was God’s grace to Noah.

    Another passage that shows the differentiation between grace and God’s general kindness is ‘God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ We know the Lord is kind to proud people in that he feeds them, lets them experience his wonderful creation and relationships with other people. However, there is a special characteristic that is more than God’s general kindness which he shares with those who are totally surrendered to obeying him. That intimacy is grace. Another example would be God’s confiding in Abraham because they were friends. The Lord didn’t confide his intentions with the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah prior to destroying them, but he did confide it to Abraham, and he called Lot and his daughters out of the city. Lot wouldn’t have known what was about to happen except for God’s grace.

    I’ve appreciated God’s kindness much like what you have been sharing in these posts and it’s healthy to think of his kindness towards us. But grace is more. We are righteous people, but God saves us by his grace. So when Peter was in prison and the angel let him out, we could say ‘great grace was upon him’ or when you or I are sharing the gospel with someone and they ask us a question we can’t answer but in that moment the Lord speaks to us and tells us the answer, that is grace. It’s more than his general kindness, and it’s more than our righteousness, it seems to be when God’s kindness meets our righteousness and the two become one.

    Some time ago I was sharing the gospel with men I worked with and they challenged my words saying, ‘What? If you can talk to God, tell him to make it stop raining so we can work.’ Now what I had been saying was true and they could have accepted it but instead they called me on it and demanded a sign. I didn’t think they would get one and started to protest saying ‘You can’t test God that way.’ but that just proved to them I was an idiot in their minds. So I bowed my head and prayed, ‘Lord, if you want these people to believe in you I can’t make them believe, only you can.’ and in moments it quit raining and didn’t rain on us the rest of the day and they knew God answered my prayer. That was God’s grace to me that day.

    Another time I was sharing with a fellow who was inquiring of me because he saw me reading God’s word and he was hurting, his girlfriend had been killed in an accident, and his parents had gotten a divorce and so he was wondering what benefit I found in reading the Bible. I tried telling him but my words weren’t speaking to him and I realized that I wasn’t connecting and he was losing patience so I uttered a quick prayer asking for help and the Spirit spoke to me and told me to read a passage in Galatians to him. When I read those words to him, I could feel God’s words going out from my body like little swords towards him and he became visibly shaken and asked, ‘You mean if I have any of those sins in my life I’m going to hell?’ I hurt for him, and I think for me too, but when I answered, ‘That’s what it says.’ He got up and stepped outside. The words the Lord had for him deeply affected him and propelled him to seek the Lord more. That was God’s grace to us that day.

    An employer I had stopped to talk with me on the job site because some of the men had given him a bad report about me speaking about God. (They never mentioned that they would harass me on the job site, just that I was preachy and it bugged them.) My boss told me he was a believer and suddenly instead of listening to my boss I found myself blurting out that his hypocrisy meant the deepest and darkest of hell for him! He instantly turned and walked away and suddenly I realized I had just gotten myself fired. I then prayed to the Lord because I knew I was in trouble and that being fired wouldn’t be good. We were contract painters and the foreman for the company we were working for came to me that very day, maybe an hour or so after my boss and he told me, ‘Travis, we’ve been noticing how you are doing touch up painting so that any over spray that has gotten onto the valves and control boxes is covered and we really like it, but it wasn’t something we had requested be done in the quote so we want you to know that we have begun paying (your boss) time and a half full time for you on this job.’ I didn’t get fired. Had I been it would have served me right I suppose but that was God’s grace to me that day.

    The Bible speaks of the early church believers saying ‘great grace was upon them’. At the same time, we find them persecuted, beaten, threatened, losing their property, and running for their lives. God’s grace is more than and different from his general kindness towards people. I could talk more about this but this has gotten to be a long post and my duties are calling to me. If you desire to know more about this grace, write again and I’ll share more.

  4. Thanks for the clarification Travis. I have a better understanding of what you mean.

    I guess we have different views of God’s grace. My understanding of the core of the gospel message is that we are saved by grace through faith- not by works (as it says in Ephesians). So I disagree that grace is only something God shows towards the righteous, or when we please him.

    Quite the contrary, I believe grace is when God chooses to be good to us despite our sins or fallenness.

    In John 1:16-17 it says, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” What you’re talking about sounds like “rewards” for doing good- the law of Moses. I think Jesus came to show us something different- grace that He still loves us even when we do not do right, and truth to show us right from wrong.

    This period of 40 days I’ve been talking about ways God has shown goodness to me, even though I’m not perfect, and even though there are hard things too. I think that in good times and bad God chooses to show us grace, because he loves us.

    Much like a father who does good for his children whether they get all As on a report card or all Ds. The father may punish the child for getting Ds, but he still shows the child grace by telling him/her that she/he is loved and continuing to play with that child.

    God has been very gracious to me despite the fact I’m a sinner, and I’m so thankful.

    That’s what my recent posts have been about.

    1. You are right to say we are saved by grace through faith, and that it is not by works. However, we are not to forget that faith without works is dead and that if you think you can show me your faith without works, I think I can show you my faith by my works… so if someone has ‘faith’ that gives them room to sin, and someone else has faith that enables them to overcome the world, who’s faith is the genuine? The faith that overcomes the world is real faith, while the faith that fails to overcome the world is something less than real. True faith is powerful while powerless faith is misunderstanding.

      Krista, sin is the most sinister of all diseases. Some of our sins are plainly obviously and we all know it’s sin. Other sins seem very right to us and we have great difficulty seeing them. Self-righteousness is just such a sin. It’s were we think we are more right than God, only because we think we’re so right as that, we can’t see what’s wrong with our thinking. Pride makes us behave like we are bigger than God, for example it allows us to sin as though God is winking at our sin through grace. Pride warps God’s word to make room for our sins.

      Growing up in church, I knew I was a believer because I believed in God and all that is Christian. However, in spite of my belief, I found I was still a sinner and that many of my believing friends were still sinners even though we were all sincerely trying to serve the Lord with all our hearts. Yet in the Bible I found that the believers were either being set free from their sins or they had been set free of their sins so they could say things like, ‘you know yourselves how blameless we were among you’. These saints said things like ‘Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect’ and they did things that no one else can do. So the early church had a faith, and a grace, and a glory that I didn’t understand or experience as a modern believer. This perplexed me. Why were they set free of their sins yet believers today, even leaders, commonly fall into sin regularly or simply keep on sinning? What were they believing that I wasn’t? The answer has to do with what we were believing that we thought was ‘gospel’ but it has been warped through over a 1000 years of church politics, greed, lust for power, and traditions held so long that the modern believer often finds themselves sometimes at a complete loss as to understand what the early believers had that was so different from us. But the differences are substantial.

      I didn’t understand hypocrisy. I thought a hypocrite was someone who plainly knew they were living two different lives and didn’t care (and for some that is true, but not for all). I didn’t realize that a ‘believer’ who is still sinning yet has convinced themselves that they are genuinely trying to overcome is ‘self-deceived’ and is thus a hypocrite even though they don’t personally know it. So even though I believed in Jesus, because I didn’t do what Jesus commanded, in God’s eyes I was still an unbeliever. I believed I was a believer, God knew I was a hypocrite. I didn’t know it, and I would have been offended if someone called me one. Still, just because I didn’t know it didn’t mean it wasn’t true.

      I couldn’t see my hypocrisy because I still nursed my sins and gave them a place in my life and I wasn’t willing to honestly look at the full extent of my own sins to truly understand how even my righteousness was truly filthy rags. So that blinded me to seeing that I was being a hypocrite instead of a true believer. I knew I was sincerely trying to follow God, share the faith, and know him. None the less, I was off track because I wasn’t willing to learn to do the harder things like become truly honest about how truly bad I was or obey any of his commands that ‘weren’t my culture’.

      To look good in spite of our real sins, we had to reinvent grace so we could believe we were saved (for by grace we are saved) but in honesty, a sinner isn’t saved, a sinner is condemned and is supposed to repent and ‘go and sin no more’. So our grace was a false version of grace. For God’s word says, ‘If we do what is doubtful we are condemned already because it’s not in faith.’ Or as another asked so honestly, ‘If we don’t forgive others, so God doesn’t forgive us our sins, where is the ‘grace’ that covers our sins? So the modern believer is saved by grace, but that grace doesn’t have anything to do with being truly repentant, doing any works, or being anything more that an unconverted proud soul that does the things to look good on the outside but not the things required to truly clean the inside. Such ‘grace’ isn’t Biblical grace, it’s a reinvention that allows us to keep living comfortably, and ‘faithfully’ in our sins of choice.

      Krista, I know it is disturbing to realize that what we thought was saving faith and grace isn’t. I had a really hard time swallowing this because suddenly I was face to face with the real gospel that commands me to be perfect even as God is perfect and I no longer had anywhere to hide. It was deeply disturbing to me because it is here that I realized I actually loved my sin and didn’t want to let go of it, and I realized even though I felt bad about some of my sins, I never was truly repentant, and thus never truly saved.). However, facing this hostility that I have had with God has been the real beginning of truly reconciling with him and puts me on the true path of becoming one with him.

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