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Posts Tagged ‘patience’


The oddest things hit you at the oddest times. Like when you’re in the kitchen just going about normal everyday cooking, like boiling water.

In the last few years it seems like I’ve been in an extended period of waiting. Waiting is never easy. I have yet to meet one person who would actually say they like to wait for anything. Some are more patient about it than others, but, it seems like no one would ever put themselves in a waiting spot.

So to try and make the wait easier, I’ve tried to wait in expectation for the next phase of what my life holds, and what the Lord is going to do. That being the case, recently I’ve realized that that’s not what I’ve ended up doing. Instead of waiting with an active expectation, I’ve actually just been waiting with no expectation. Instead of actively waiting, I’ve been passively waiting.

So it hit me while I was in the kitchen waiting for a pot of water to boil so I could make pasta, that waiting in life is a lot like waiting for water to boil.

Now I know the old adage that a watched pot never boils, but the reality is that if you prepare it correctly, it will, just not as fast as you think it should. All you have to do is get the pot out, fill it with water, put it on the burner and turn on the heat.

Then wait. And wait. And wait.

You can go off and do other things while it boils, but if you stand there and watch it with expectation a funny thing happens. You get to see what goes on with the water as it goes through its stages of heating up, then boiling.

At first, the water is pretty still and it looks like nothing at all is happening. Then, so suddenly you don’t think you’re seeing things correctly, there are small movements as the water starts to flow in channels in the heat. Later, bubbles start to form on the bottom and sides of the pot, just before they rise to the surface and you can truly see that something is happening.

With the breaking of the bubbles on the surface, then you know it’s time for you to do whatever it is that you’re going to with the boiled water. Like, put in the pasta so it can cook, and, you can go on to the next phase of preparing something to eat.

In waiting for the water to boil, it occurred to me that it’s the same with waiting for the Lord. We can passively wait, go off and do something else and not bother to look to see the signs that the Lord is at work. Or, we can actively wait, by doing what we are doing as we live our lives, and at the same time keep our eyes open. If we do this, then we can see the flow of the current of the Lord beneath the surface before what He’s doing boils up to overflowing in our lives.

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth. It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:10-11

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The last three weeks have been interesting one in the life of my son who is finishing up the seventh grade.  He’s at that point where he’s pushing boundaries to see just how far he can go, while at the same time having to step outside his own comfort zone to try and communicate with others.

The whole situation looks an awful lot like the Push-Me-Pull-Me in the original Dr. Doolittle film. One day he’s very forward in pushing for what he wants, and the next he’d rather die than explain himself.

The last three weeks have been pretty heavy in the rather die category especially in regards to explaining himself to his teacher. It was about then that she told me he was missing a couple of spelling assignment from that week. So, as soon as we got into the truck to drive home I asked him about them, and he said he didn’t remember doing them. So, I told him he had to do all of them including his regular homework when we got home, and turn it in the next day, which was a Friday.

He said okay, did the work and I thought it was a done deal. Until I saw his binder on Sunday evening after he’s spent the weekend with his father, and the missed assignments hadn’t been turned in.

I pointed them out and he said that he didn’t think his teacher would take them because they were late. I said, ‘you need to apologize, explain what happened and turn them in.’

Well, long story short, he didn’t. Over the next three weeks, I felt like I was in a time-warp, or the movie Groundhog Day. I would ask him if he turned the late homework in, he would say, ‘I couldn’t get my teacher’s attention and she won’t take it anyway’ and I would say, ‘you have to try.’ The time frame was made even longer by the fact that we were gone for a week and half because of Easter.

Those two assignments felt like the proverbial bad penny that just keeps on showing up regardless of how you try to get rid of it. And, even though my son was refusing to go and turn them in and talk to his teacher about it, I could tell that he was distressed about the whole thing. It just wasn’t sitting well with him.

Finally, I said to him, ‘you need to turn it in and explain yourself or I will make an appointment with your teacher and you will explain to her at that time about your homework.’

That finally did it, he turned in the work, and it turns out that she gives half credit for late assignments unlike what he thought about zero credit. When I asked her about how he explained himself when he turned it in, I could tell he didn’t do a very good job, but I was just happy he actually did it. And, I wouldn’t have to open his binder to find those two assignments staring me in the face again.

The whole thing did get me thinking about things we need to give to the Lord, and how we need to explain them to Him, not for Him to know, because He already knows, but for ourselves. How many times do we intend to give Him something, then don’t? We don’t for a variety of reasons, because we’re afraid, or don’t know how to do it, or even because we would rather stay silent and assume He will react a certain way, rather than tell Him and find out the reality of how He is.

It gets to the point that it’s like we’re in our own personal Groundhog Day with the Lord. Until we give it over to Him, everyday it just keeps showing up and staring us in the face.

We carry around the weight of not only the things we need to give to Him, but the weight of not turning them over to Him, which means we’re carrying around a lot more than He ever wants us to.

He, like my son’s teacher, can just go and get whatever it is that needs to be turned over to Him, but that wouldn’t do a thing to help build a relationship would it? Because many times  it’s in those moments of giving something over and communicating with Him about it, that the threads of our relationship and our faith are formed and strengthened.

“I was mute and silent; I held my peace to no avail, and my distress grew worse.”

Psalm 39:2

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Art Linkletter used to say, ‘Kids say the darndest things,’ and really they do. You never know what’s going to come out of their mouths, how they will express themselves and whether what they say is a whole truth, partial truth or just a big whopper of an untruth.

On Easter Sunday, which is quickly morphing into Resurrection Sunday to reflect what it’s really about, we had brunch with some very good friends. Among the assorted group there are two children, my son and my friend’s son who is six.

This six year old insisted on giving the blessing for the meal which was a wonderful, concise expression of what Easter is all about. This little guy didn’t just pray about it in vague generalities either, he knew and thanked God for  coming down as Jesus then dying on the cross and rising from the dead so that we can be free from sin in Him.

As we began to gather our food on our plates, we were suitably impressed that this little guy had it all down pat.

Now, we had brought some little Easter gifts for our friends and especially for this little guy. His grandparents and mom had said he couldn’t open any of them until after the meal was over.

Of course, being six he could hardly wait for the meal to be over. He’s a good eater anyway, but he was finished before the rest of us. When he was done, it was all he could do to sit still and not hurry everyone else along to finish their meal.

Pretty soon he began to circle the table looking for empty plates to take out to the kitchen with an ever watchful eye on the basket that sat nearby with his name on it, just waiting for him to open it.

Finally, after a bit he couldn’t stand it any longer and he said ‘Is everyone done? Can I take everyone’s plates?’ At this we all laughed, because almost everyone could relate to his impatience at our turtle slowness in finishing up, especially since such treasures lay just ahead.

At the laughter he immediately jumped to defend and explain himself and his desire for the basket, all the while his eye was trained on it.

‘I know it’s all about Jesus, but….’ he said.

How many times do we say the very same thing in a different way in our own lives?  We say, “I know it’s all about you Jesus, but….” or “I know it’s all about you Lord, but..” as we look at the something we really desire allowing it to take our eyes off of Him and who He is and what life is really all about.

Many times, our eyes go one way, while our mouth goes another and our hearts are somewhere else. Yet, the reality is they should all be lined up focusing on Him, because at the end of the day it’s all about Him with no ‘but’ involved.

“Jesus replied, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.'”

Matthew 22:37

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With all the hullabaloo about the movie, “The Kings Speech”, which is very well deserved by the way, I started thinking about those people who stutter and those of us who listen to them.

My son is someone who stutters. He doesn’t stutter all the time,  but regularly enough that I’ve had to train myself to listen to him, which sounds odd when you think about it.

My son has his mouth exercises to help him with his stuttering, and ever since he began stuttering when he was about 6 or 7, I’ve had to train myself to sit patiently while he says whatever he needs to say.

In my most basic self this wouldn’t be an easy feat for me. Before I had him, it used to drive me up a wall, across the ceiling and down the other side whenever anyone spoke too slowly. But, an interesting thing happens when it’s someone you care about and love who needs that little bit of extra time and attention so they can get their words and thoughts out.

You just sit, wait and listen until they’re done. You don’t override them. You don’t speak over them. You’re just patient and give them all the time they need to express themselves.

Now, you would think that this experience over the years with my son would have given me a lot more patience with others who speak slowly or take some time getting their words and thoughts out, but, not so much. I only have that kind of patience with my son, with everyone else I still feel like I’m going up one wall, across the ceiling and down the other side. It’s only self-control that keeps my mouth shut.

So really my patience in this arena is person specific, and that specific person is typically my son.

Sometimes when he’s having a particularly difficult day, which really is not very often anymore, we sit for longer periods of time having a conversation because that’s just how it works out. And, at the end of one of those days I was reminded of how our God deals with all of His children in much the same way.

All of us, at one time or another, have come to Him to talk and find we stutter and stammer around trying to find the rights words, the right ways of expressing what’s going on in our hearts, our minds and our spirits, and, He just sits patiently waiting for us to get out what we are trying to tell to Him.

No matter how long it takes. No matter how inept we are at trying to express ourselves. No matter if we say the wrong words or can’t say them at all. He just sits and patiently waits for us, the very picture of patience that can only be born of  a deep and abiding love.

“The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary.”

Isaiah 40:28

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Wait, wait, wait. It seems like we’re forever waiting, doesn’t it?

When you’re young and you’re going on a vacation, wait was a word of torturous length. How many times did you ask your parents ‘when are we going to get there?’ and depending on what type of parents you had, you got different answers,  like  ‘we’ll get there when we get there’, ‘soon’ or ‘5 minutes’. Of course, they seemed to say ‘5 minutes’ every half an hour for hours, which made it that much more unbearable.

Waiting is unbearable at times. As adult believers we are caught between asking God ‘when?’ to sitting quietly looking out the window of our lives watching the scenery go by as we go about our daily busyness waiting for God to do what He has told us He would do.

But, He doesn’t tell us ‘5 minutes’, in fact, usually, He doesn’t tell us anything. We’re just supposed to trust Him that He will do what He has said He will do when the time is right, which seems a very long time after we think it should be.

Basically, he just tells us to wait for Him.

A friend of mine recently reminded me of the Amorites in Genesis 15, who God spared because the behavior that would lead to their destruction had not reached its fullness, as in, they were given more time until that fullness of time was complete.

There’s something to that fullness of time idea.

Whenever I think of fullness, I think of a balloon being blown up. The helium is slowly added to the balloon until it can’t possibly contain any more, making it full and able to float high. Whereas, before it’s full it just kind of hangs around your ankles not doing much of anything.

In our lives God has so much that He’s adding in that we just can’t see. Maybe you’re where you’re supposed to be and He’s working with another person to bring them to where they’re supposed to be before He will bring you together for His own purposes, and maybe you’re the one that needs the work, you just can’t see it. All you can see is the seemingly endless waiting.

It’s that fullness of time thing, and God is the only one who can see it and bring it about at just the perfect time. Our job, hard as it is, is to just wait as patiently as we can, trusting God to be God and trying to understand that His fullness of time is not our own.

“From ancient times no one has heard, no one has listened, no eye has seen any God except You, who acts on behalf of the one who waits for Him.”

Isaiah 64:4

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Just a little bit of patience would make the world a little easier place to be, both for those we love and for ourselves.

Everything seems like it needs to be fast in the world we live in. We pick up the kids late, only to find that we’re later than we thought, so we rush forward and get upset when someone gets in our way and slows us down.

I drive a lot of two lane highways. It seems like the later I am, the slower the car in front of me is. With very few safe places to pass, my patience gets stretched when they slow down to look at an oak tree or a building made entirely of old stones. Beautiful sights sure, but not when you’re in a hurry trying to get where you need to go.

Having a child, or children as the case may be, gives a parent ample opportunity to exercise their patience, or not. There are many times when I tell my son to do something and when he hasn’t done it in 20 seconds or less, I find myself getting annoyed, my patience is tried and stretched.

Now if he didn’t do his chore or whatever I asked him to do in, let’s say, 20 minutes, I could understand a little trying of the patience muscle, but I, like many people I know, need a little help in that department.

We are not a very patient people.

Unfortunately, I find that it is with those I care about the most that my lack of patience rears its ugly head, unable to resist the opportunity to assert itself.

In Proverbs 19:11 it says, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.”

It seems that many times one admirable quality is accompanied by another just as admirable quality. They seem to hang out together in groups, like people we respect or admire and would like to get to know better.

My son and I were walking on a hot day and heard a rushing stream a little ways off. We continued slowly walking to the source to find a deep ravine that had been carved slowly and carefully over time by the water.

When you think about it the water, a non thinking force by any stretch of the imagination but a force none-the-less, had the patience to keep on running over the same strip of rock until it had worn it away and carved out a place for itself.

The water just did what it needed to do in order to go in a certain path. It didn’t complain, it didn’t whine, it just did it until over a period of time its goal was achieved.

We could learn a thing or two about patience from the water, about not getting upset when things don’t happen in the short-term and quitting, instead of allowing life to be life and taking the time to allow things to play out instead of having to have an instant answer, an instant action or an instant anything.

What Wisdom may tell us if we’d listen to her when she calls out in the streets, is that we need to learn and develop, to watch and wait, all of which take time and patience. This is so God can move in us and we may develop the wisdom and patience to not move ahead of Him no matter how fast we want something done.

“being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,”

Colossians 1:11 (NIV)

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