The older I get, the more impatient I have become. At times I think, and also at times I have been told, that I have no patience (which dictionary.com defines as “the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like). My ability to tolerate tardiness has been diminishing. My ability to stand in line is mostly non-existent. My ability to suffer fools is sorely lacking. This is a problem, because the fruit of the Spirt, the evidences that one is walking in flash and not flesh, includes patience. Christians, by nature, are blessed by God with patience, and yet I cannot seem to endure the simplest inconveniences of life.
The problem of impatience is not the petty annoyances like waiting for the utility company to fix a problem with my service or for the cashier to end her collegial conversation to ring up my purchase. The problem of impatience is the bigger issue of control of my time. Impatience reveals that we expect to be the trackers of our time; we want to be the masters of our minutes, the owners of our hours and the director of our days. We want to be in control of our lives. We want to be…but we are not.
Patience comes through our trust that God is in control. God knows the times that try our patience – the infernal moments at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, the unending conversations with the opinionated uninformed and the sleepless nights after the interview or appointment – and God has some purpose in all of them. When we have the faith sufficient to follow God’s schedule, we will enjoy patience. There are more than a dozen references in the scriptures commanding us to ‘wait for the Lord’. The blessing of patience is found when we allow ourselves to remain where God wants us to be for as long as God determines.
…but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 (ESV)
The remarkable dynamic regarding patience is that it is a gift that keeps giving. God the Spirit endows people of faith with the character of patience, the ability to wait, and then that ability to wait endows those same people of faith with unlimited strength (as we soar to the highest of heights, run without weariness and walk without weakness). Patient endurance prepares us for future productivity. Not only does God grant His children the character of long-suffering but also the stamina to accomplish God’s will when it is God’s time to do so.
The fear I have in addressing my lack of patience, and seeking to live in obedience by exercising the spiritual fruit of patience, is that my life will be filled with opportunities to express patience. I trust that God knows more than I do and that He will, as I wait, enable me to fly, run and walk without limitation. Perhaps there are even things I could do while I sit in the ‘waiting room’ – read, relate or rest – so that I can be ready when the time is right. I guess I will just have to wait and see.