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Posts Tagged ‘Patience’

We’re all familiar with the extraordinary accomplishments of:

 

 

  • Beethoven—composing masterful concertos, symphonies and more while deaf
  • Michelangelo—creating over-sized artworks with awe-inspiring realism
  • Shakespeare—writing dozens of plays and hundreds of sonnets with words that flowed “like a miraculous Celestial Light-ship, woven all of sheet-lightning and sunbeams” (Thomas Carlisle)

Geniuses indeed. But even more important than brilliance was their willingness to exert great effort.

 

 

Beethoven rewrote nearly every bar of his compositions at least a dozen times.

Michelangelo produced more than 2,000 preparatory sketches for “Last Judgment” alone, a painting considered by many as one of the best artworks of all time. It took eight years to complete.

Even Shakespeare must have revised again and again before his words approached the sublime eloquence he is known for.

 

 

The more we know of such masters, the more we realize: their works required enduring patience, tenacious persistence, and sharp focus.

It just so happens that God values those three attributes also. And since he’s working in us to foster all positive traits, we each have the potential to create masterpieces.

Of course, works of genius include much more than symphonies, paintings, and plays.  Are you part of a ministry, community project, or volunteer organization? Are you a parent, grandparent, mentor, or friend? These are just a few ways you and I contribute to the most valuable masterpieces of all—the people around us.

 

 

But there is effort involved. God chooses not to do it alone; he invites us to join with him in the work.  So what might be our part in developing those important qualities of patience, persistence, and focus, necessary for developing our genius?

The following steps may provide a good start.

 

Step #1: Practice waiting.

 

 

It is a fact: most worthwhile endeavors take time. Usually lots of it.

In addition, patience requires stamina to endure delay.

Consider Dr. Albert Sabin, who researched polio and developed the oral vaccine.  His mission required thirty-one years of painstaking effort.

 

 

Step #2: Expect to be stretched by struggle.

Oswald Chambers, in My Utmost for His Highest, likens the believer in the hands of God to the bow in the hands of an archer. God stretches us beyond what we think we can bear. And when his purpose is in sight, then he lets fly.

Consider Dr. Jason Fader, son of medical missionaries who now serves as a medical missionary himself in Berundi, Africa–after grueling medical training, intense language school, and challenging fund-raising.  But in 2017 he was chosen as the first recipient of the Gerson L’Chaim Prize for Outstanding Christian Medical Missionary Service ( Jason’s story).

 

Step #3: Persist—with the application of faith, prayer, and hope.

We must be willing to tolerate discomfort, perhaps for an extended period of time.

However, the genius-in-the-making under God’s tutelage does not plod along as he perseveres; he plots. He sets his coordinates for the course ahead by faith, prayer, and hopetrusting in God’s promises, asking for God’s guidance, and embracing the possibilities of tomorrow as well as the challenges of today—because in all of it there is good.

Consider George Muller of Bristol, England, whose five orphanages housed over 2,000 children at any one time.  Muller not only wanted to care for these children but demonstrate that God would meet “all their needs as a result of prayer and faith, without any one being asked or approached” (www.mullers.org).  His story includes miracle after miracle.

 

 

Step #4: Remain focused on the task at hand.

A genius does not allow distraction or discouragement to sidetrack him. He takes delight in the present moment while: composing one bar of sublime, symphonic fusion, getting the light just right in one small area of the canvas, or choosing specific, rhythmic words for one line of imagery.

But even more important for the believer, she is inspired and directed by God himself. His plan may include an exceptional piece of music, art, or writing. Or, perhaps even more importantly, it may include exceptional input into the lives of others–through kindness, encouragement, and integrity.

 

 

It is God who is the Supreme Genius, masterfully weaving a tapestry of circumstances and relationships among his people. The full beauty of this masterpiece will not be revealed until we all arrive in heaven.

Then we’ll see the results of the God-given genius in each of us, our patience, perseverance, and focus, woven into God’s perfect design.

And what a celebration will ensue.

 

(Art & photo credits:  http://www.wikimedia.com; http://www.wikipedia.com (2); http://www.ramstein.af.mil; http://www.flickr.com; http://www.vi.wikipedia.com; http://www.georgemuller.org; http://www.flickr.com.)

 

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time

 

Does it ever seem to you that God shows up late sometimes? Surely you’ve had it happen to you.  In spite of persistent prayer and patient waiting (OK, almost patient), God did not intervene in a timely manner.

For example:

  • Applications for grad school were turned down—three years in a row. Finally, the fourth year, acceptance was granted. Why?
  • The job you needed ASAP didn’t materialize for two years. Why?
  • The bracelet that had been your grandmother’s suddenly disappeared. Heartsick, you searched and searched. No bracelet. Suddenly, months later, there it was–caught in a sweater you hadn’t worn in ages. Why?

Why the delay???

I know this sounds impertinent, but in all of these cases and many more, it would appear God was not paying attention.

Or…

…Could it be God operates in a different time frame, one not governed by days, months, or years?

After all, God is eternally the same, always was and always will be. Time is rather inconsequential to him. He lives in a dimension where past, present, and future are not separated.

Time for God is measured more in seasons. Paul included the concept in his persuasive address at Athens:

“From one man [God] made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live” (Acts 17:26).

The Greek word Paul used in that verse is kairos. It means, “the suitable or appropriate time for something to occur or for something to be accomplished.”

In his speech, Paul was referring to the appropriate times certain people-groups would rise to power, such as the Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, and Romans.

The Greeks had a second word for time: chronos. This is the kind of time we measure with clocks and calendars. This is our comfort zone–the kind of time we know and understand best. Perhaps that’s why we anticipate God should operate within chronos.

But kairos is God’s time, as in “I choose the appointed time, it is I who judge uprightly” (Psalm 75:2).

Taking the definition of kairos into consideration, this verse would read:

“I choose the suitable and appropriate time to accomplish my purposes.”

And what would be the foundation of God’s choice of kairos?

His righteousness.

“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne” (Psalm 89:15).

Everything God does is right, including when he does it.

His wisdom.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out” (Romans 11:33)!

It’s been said: “If I had the power of God, there are many things that I would change; but if I had the wisdom of God, I would not change a thing.”

That would include the timing of events, too.

His love.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him” (1 John 4:9, NLT).

Would a God who loves like that fail to pay attention, and mess up the timing of his involvement?

Kairos implies “at just the right time.”

At just the right time, the door opened for grad school.

At just the right time, that job was provided.

At just the right time, the keepsake bracelet was found.

By not asking why we had to wait, perhaps we demonstrate a modicum of maturity.

 

(Art credit:  www.inscribewritersonline.blogspot.com.)

 

 

 

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Let me take a wild guess here.  You are waiting for something.  Either a prayer to be answered, a need to be met, or an event to take place.  Of course you are. Waiting is a part of life.

But why? God could intervene sooner than later if he wanted to. Why the delay?

Because particular blessings result from wait-time. You’ll find several of them itemized in a previous post: “The Blessings of Wait Time” (October 10, 2013).  You can click on it below.

But recently I came across an addendum that grabbed my attention; perhaps you’ll find it noteworthy, too.

First, you’re probably familiar with the instruction of Psalm 27:14 and other scriptures that tell us to wait on the Lord.

 

psalm27.14

 

Centuries ago, in the old Prayer Book Version (which predated even the King James Version) that sentence was translated: “O tarry thou in the Lord’s leisure.”

Gives the verse a new layer of meaning, doesn’t it.

I’m thinking of an anxious child, waiting not-so-patiently for the moment aunts, uncles, and especially young cousins will arrive on a summer Saturday. How he looks forward to the table heaped with picnic fare, the games of tag and hide-and-seek, and perhaps Marco Polo in the pool.

“When will they get here?” he pines — again.

“All in good time,” Dad responds while preparing the grill.

 

frustration

 

Do you remember being that child? Your very insides were jumping around with pent-up excitement. Maybe your outsides were jumpy, too. Sitting still was an impossibility. You wanted the fun to begin NOW. Did you wonder, How can Dad be so calm?

We weren’t quite wise enough to recognize Dad’s vantage point of experience. He knew that highly anticipated events do eventually happen, and anxiety does not speed up the process. Dad could relax, enjoying the peace and quiet perhaps, before the whirlwind of relatives descended.

Is it possible that such a scenario describes (in part) the way our all-knowing, all-powerful Heavenly Father looks at our circumstances?

He knows exactly when each prayer will be answered, when each need will be met, when each anticipated event will occur.

So calmly and leisurely he waits until the time is just right.

Perhaps God is waiting until we’re ready to receive what he has planned.  Might a little more spiritual maturity be in order?

Perhaps others are involved and he’s engineering circumstances to meet several purposes all at once.  Joseph was released from prison at just the precise moment Egypt would need his God-inspired wisdom and leadership.

Perhaps our Father provides wait time to take our faith to the next level.  He knows how contented we will be upon learning to rest and trust in quiet calm –with  no jumpy impatience.  How wonderful to affirm with calm conviction: “All in good time.”

Just like Dad said.

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Oh, Father, I don’t want to be like an immature, restless child who cannot be patient. Instead, may I “tarry in your leisure” –resting in your sovereignty and trusting in your timing — implicitly. I want to hope, anticipate, and endure as evidence of ever-growing faith.   Bottom line: I want to please you. And, without faith, I know that is impossible (Hebrews 11:6).

 

(Photo credits:  www.joyshope.com; http://www.betterparenting.com.)

 

 

 

 

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“It is good to wait quietly,” Jeremiah said (Lamentations 3:26a).

At the risk of sounding impudent, “What’s good about it?”

Waiting can make us feel anxious and stressed.  If we’re waiting for a prayer to be answered or a scriptural promise to be fulfilled, we can become doubtful, discouraged, and despondent.  Not good.

Yet the act of waiting seems important to God.  Numerous times in the Bible we see people of faith who had to endure Wait Time:

  • Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the birth of Isaac.
  • Jacob waited 14 years to take Rachel as his bride.
  • Joseph waited 13 years, first as a slave, then as a prisoner, before being rescued and elevated by God to second-in-command over Egypt.
  • The Israelites waited through 400 years of slavery in Egypt before God’s miraculous intervention.

  • Caleb waited 45 years to inherit his portion of the Promised Land.
  • David waited at least 15 years to become king of Israel, after his anointing by Samuel.
  • Simeon, Anna, and many other Jews waited for their Messiah.

God’s delays must serve a purpose.  And a diligent search through scripture gives us answers to:  What good can come from waiting?

  • Times of waiting strengthen our trust in God and our resolve (Psalm 27:14).  If every day was problem-free and blissful, surely our faith would remain shallow.
  • We grow in our relationship with God while resting in his sovereignty and reliability (Psalm 62:5-8).  The Almighty of the universe becomes our closest confidant.  Intimacy with him deepens as we turn to him for comfort, encouragement, strength, and more.

  • Spiritual maturity develops (James 1:2-4).  Waiting is a challenge all by itself, but can also be accompanied by worry, pain, and sacrifice.  The test of waiting, however, develops our patience and perseverance and gives us opportunity to grow in character.  None of these benefits would blossom within us if God provided for every whim, and rescued from every trial.
  • We learn to take joy in the blessings we already have.  Paul wrote, “Be joyful always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16) to a church experiencing persecution.  They were undoubtedly praying and waiting for relief.  But Paul knew that focusing on what Christ had already done for the believers, and the benefits they already enjoyed, would help offset their anxiety and frustration.  The same is true for us.
  • Others see our patience and trust while we wait (Psalm 40:1-4).  Then, when God answers our cries, others take note of his provision, and their faith is encouraged.

It seems we’re always waiting for something; it’s only the intensity of emotion attached to the waiting that tends to vary.  When that intensity begins to grow, perhaps it would help to say, “I’m waiting with great anticipation!

 

 

There can be sweet delight in anticipation.  For example, as the Christmas holidays approach, I anticipate the glorious homecoming of family members.  I relish the imaginings of long conversations at the candle-lit dinner table, the hugs and laughter, and the gathering around the Christmas tree for family worship and gift-giving.

I need to apply that joy of anticipation to waiting on God.  I can relish the fact that his plan – including the Wait Time — always includes positive aspects.  I can reaffirm that God is always on time – never late, never early.  I can generate excitement in my spirit by musing on God’s promises and looking forward to the creative, miraculous ways he will fulfill those promises.  With an attitude of anticipation, waiting shouldn’t be nearly so uncomfortable.

(You have my permission to remind me of that, should impatience or frustration start to manifest themselves!)

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Heavenly Father, I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for the Wait Times in my life.  Thank you for holding me back, so trust, intimacy, gratitude, patience, and spiritual maturity have a chance to grow.  Help me to embrace the Wait Times as opportunities to discover more of who you are, more of the priceless treasures hidden in your Word, and more of who I can be when I am rooted and built up in you (Colossians 2:7)—especially through times of waiting.

(Art & photo credits:  www.bible-stories-library.com , http://www.moseseditor.blogspot.com . http://www.photosbyravi.com , http://www.pinterest.com.

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‘Twas the day after Christmas, and all through the mall,

Shoppers with gift cards were having a ball.                                                             

English: Clothing store in Chep Deutsch: Bekle...

I was among them, reveling in one of my favorite activities: bargain hunting. There’s something exhilarating about combing through a rack of clothing, which everyone else has passed by, and finding a gem. Marked down. At least twice.

Ruth of the Old Testament gleaned Boaz’ fields (Ruth 2:2-3); I glean sales racks.

Field of Boaz

Field of Boaz (Photo credit: Seetheholyland.net)

This particular December 26 while browsing in Macy’s, a true treasure emerged from the rejects: a lined, flowing silk skirt, black, with vertical stripes of rust and taupe. Down each stripe ran a subtle pattern of flowers.

Such an elegant, versatile skirt would be a great addition to my wardrobe, I thought. Warily I searched for the tag. Although tucked among the clearance merchandise, it still might cost too much. There was no tag.

So I headed to the nearest cashier counter for a price check.

Now if you’ve ever shopped on December 26, you know the importance of taking plenty of patience with you. It’s probably the second busiest shopping day of the whole year, right behind Black Friday. Long lines at the cash register are just part of the process.

in line

in line (Photo credit: iowa_spirit_walker)

Imagine my delight to see only two people at the counter.

Customer #1 didn’t take very long at all. Fantastic.

Customer #2 was returning merchandise that she had received as a gift. And although it was from Macy’s, her gift came from out-of-state. This particular store didn’t carry that pant-and-sweater set. Now what? The cashier didn’t know.

The manager was called. Wait. Wait. Wait.

She didn’t know what to do either.

I scanned the surrounding area, looking for another counter where I might get waited on sooner. They were backed up, too. Might as well stay put.

Phone calls ensued. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Finally, someone at the other end of the line knew what to do and explained the steps to follow. Wait. Wait. Wait.

Of course, the steps were not easy to follow. A few missteps occurred. Wait. Wait. Wait.

At long last, the customer left with a receipt. To her credit, she apologized for taking so long. I said something like, “These things happen. Can’t be helped.” I even smiled. After all, it wasn’t her fault.

To the credit of Ms. S. P. (Sales Person), she, too, apologized for the delay, and cheerfully asked how she could help me.

“I might want to buy this skirt, but there’s no tag.”

She looked it over, but Miss S.P. didn’t find a tag either.

“Tell you what,” she said. “Since you were so nice about the situation with the last customer, I’ll just ring it up with this.” She pulled over another skirt, sitting in a fluff on the end of the counter. The price? Under $7.00.

“I’ll take it!” I cried, and whispered a prayer of gratitude to God. That super-bargain skirt seemed like a gift from him, almost a reward for my patience.

God has said, “I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve” (Jeremiah 17:10).

Does that mean God rewards every good deed with a gracious blessing? No, I’d become a very spoiled daughter of the King if he did that. In addition, any good deeds I might undertake would be generated by wrong motives.

And please, don’t pat me on the back either. I’m not confrontational by nature anyway. It wasn’t that hard to wait, smile, express understanding, and be patient.

But. Blessings like that skirt come just often enough to remind us:

He’s watching.

He’s appreciating.

There are even moments He’s smiling, because of the choices we make.

The satisfaction in those realities is a glorious blessing in itself.

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