Union Ridge Church

May 24, 2023

by Reverend Dan on May 24, 2023
I am in the midst of the hardest class I’ve ever taken. It’s an independent study, just me and the teacher, and it’s a “go at your own pace’ curriculum. The name of the class is “Patience”, the teacher is God, and my pace isn’t working very well. I don’t have the patience I need and that’s why I’m taking the class in the first place. All I really wanted to know was the answer to one simple question, but suddenly I’m in this “hurry up and wait” purgatory. I just wanted to know how something is going to turn out, when it’s going to happen, what’s going to happen when it does, and all the details about how it’s going to happen. Oh, and I want to know now. Is that too much to ask? But as is obvious, the teacher and I seem to be at a bit of a loggerhead, or I’d have another topic today. According to Him, in order to learn patience, I have to have patience. Well, if I had it, I wouldn’t have to learn it. Sometimes God, with all this “the first shall be last and the last shall be first” stuff confuses me.

Yesterday during prayer time, something hit me. (I think it was the teacher, slap up against the side of my head. Not the first time.) I would never have patience until I understood the purpose of patience. Just as if someone was standing right beside me, I could hear this audible voice in my head saying, “When you pray to me for patience, do you think I give you patience, or do I give you the opportunity to be patient and learn from that?” (I almost felt like next He was going to call me “Grasshopper.” You have to be old and watched “Kung Fu” back in the 70’s to get that.) I had to go back to my Philosophy of Religion class notes to work through His question. Do you mean what I want to know isn’t what this is about at all? That this is about learning that things work out in the time they are supposed to and when we intervene and try to speed things up is when the problems occur? Do we rush issues along and in the process lose both the lesson of patience and the other lessons that come with it? Do we impatiently take over and in the process change the outcome and screw things up? Are our impatient actions a reflection of our inability to not trust God’s plan and God’s timing?

Good Lord, I just wanted a simple answer, not a migraine headache. Instead of an easy answer, I’m realizing patience is hard and it takes practice. And it involves lots of emotions that control its archenemy impatience. Things like fear, worry, and control. None of which have any virtue and we’ve all heard it a million times: patience is a virtue.
Maybe impatience is a by-product of the world we live in. Our microwave culture. Immediate gratification. Time is money. All that stuff. But are we so busy, rushing from one thing to the next that we’re missing the lessons inherent to being patient? Are we missing the joy of the journey? The little lessons and blessings that are nothing but a blur when we live at warp speed? Do we move so fast that we sometimes blow right by the answer and never realize it? Don’t we have enough time to just “sit with it”, whatever “it” is, and let patience do its work? Do we not trust that God’s got this, whatever “this” is?

I remember watching my grandparents as they got older. It seems the longer they lived, the more patient they became. Maybe it was the different time they lived in. Maybe it was the lessons the experiences of their lives taught them. Or maybe as our time here on earth grows shorter, we just get better at waiting because we realize we can’t force time. Can’t speed it up. Can’t slow it down. Can’t stop it. It is its own force, and we must play by its rules.

Do I have an answer to my original question? Nope. But all this ruminating about patience has refocused my vision. Instead of looking for an answer, I’m learning to wait on God. If I just take His hand and walk at His pace, the worry is not so dire, the issue not so consuming, and the days not so stressed. I know that while I wait for an answer, I’m not waiting alone. And in that, I’ve realized the purpose of patience; to draw us closer to God and trust in His perfect timing.