Thursday, July 1, 2010

Patience

Is God a mind reader? Well, yes. Yes He is. Last night as I cracked open my Magnificat for a little reflection time, I laughed out loud. Just hours earlier I had posted on Facebook this status: “Sarah needs to work on the virtue of patience . . . but I don’t have the patience to work on it.” I meant it with every fiber of my being. I was frustrated and impatient to the depths.

Here is what I read from evening prayer:

  • “In peace and in patience, let us pray to the Lord.”
  • “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” Is 30:15
  • “Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act . . . Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret . . . the patient shall inherit the land.” Psalm 37
  • “Love is patient.” 1 Cor 13:4
  • “Grant patience, Lord, grant peace” (the response to the intercessions)

You see why I laughed. :)

One of my first encounters with being impatient was a family trip to Disneyland. It was a holiday weekend and by far what stands out from that trip was the waiting in line. I remember being so antsy. Constantly looking ahead and counting how many more people until my turn. My brother and I kept checking the watch – “We’ve been in line how long!?” I recall hanging on the railing, shifting from side to side, looking up at the ride over and over in order to convince myself this line was worth that short little (sometimes scary!) trip.

When we are impatient we become almost frantic. We get antsy. We try to “make” happen whatever it is that we want to happen. We try to “make” the light turn green or the driver in front of us change lanes by glaring and staring and willing it to be. We try to “make” the job offer, raise, promotion or bonus check come faster by checking our inbox and mailbox with frantic frequency. We try to “make” God bring us spouse, baby, home, health or job. We try praying and pleading and bemoaning and begging. We’re antsy, hanging, shifting and watching the clock.

So how in these situations – when we ache for progress, itch for satisfaction, and long for that “at last” (hear Etta James singing this jazzy tune) moment – can we be patient? “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.”

We wait. We take a deep breath, realize we are not in control, and let go (as best we can!) of the desire to be so. We embrace the wait. It is here. And there is something to be learned from it.

Be calm. We stop the frantic fidgeting and we still the “maybe if I just try this/do that” thinking. We quit watching the clock (the line, the job ads, the personals, the bank account) for just a minute and refocus ourselves back on Christ - who has unimaginable things planned “for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9).

Be quiet. For just a moment we stop telling God all we want and need. We stop the constant begging and long-winded pleading. And in the quiet we can hear again. We hear him say “I love you”, “I know your need”, “I have a plan”, “A very good plan.”, “Trust me”.

We trust. We take all the controlling, longing, fidgeting, doing, praying, begging, pleading, hoping, and dreaming - and we offer it to God. We say, “I give you all this Lord. Give me what I need to love you, seek you, and find you in this moment.”

It isn’t magic, but it works. Why? “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies.” “Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act . . . Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret . . . the patient shall inherit the land.”

I’m not suggesting that being patient means denying our wants, ceasing our prayers, or giving up on our dreams. Nor does it entail sitting idly by as we adopt an apathetic, lazy, do-nothing attitude towards life.

Yet, by its very nature patience involves stillness. It calls us to the quiet, to the calm presence of our perfect God. It beckons us to surrender and invites us to trust. We let go. We wait. We are patient before our God.

After all, “Love is patient.”

So “In peace and in patience, let us pray to the Lord.”

“Grant patience, Lord, grant peace”

Amen!

Amen.

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