WE CHOOSE TO BE PATIENT, EVEN WHEN WE FEEL LIKE GETTING OUR OWN WAY.
Memory Verse: "He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who captures a city." Proverbs 16:32
Gnarly branches twist and turn all around the trunk of our mysterious ancient tree, that whispered to us of old untold stories. it held the mystique of the generations it had witnessed but hid from our sight. Surely, as it stood in a cattle tank and was well watered, it knew the lives of those living in the 75-year-old farm house standing nearby. Majestic in the hidden brush of some property our family owns right in the middle of Texas, it was a hiking destination on many evening walks. Most of the trees on our 200 acres are small scrub oak, but this is the grand daddy of all the trees! When the kids and Clay and I first discovered it for ourselves, we could not believe how amazingly large it is. With our whole family holding hands around the tree, we could not even totally enclose the circumference. It is much larger even than it looks in this picture that my brother-in-law, Wiley Clarkson, took!
If only this tree could talk! It has grown and given shade to many people through the years, but it is thought to have lasted generations. Yet even this gigantic tree started out as a little sprig, but with all the potential of becoming large, old, and grand hidden within at its very inception. It took a very, very long time for that potential to become actual. This tree grew through storms, drought, tornadoes, and lightning. The tree has a story to tell now, since it has lasted longer than all of the other trees that began when it did.
As I have been reflecting on my life, I see that God has taken all of the years and made them fruitful and productive. Most days, I could not see the growth. Yet, over the years, God was building a legacy through our family, our children, our ministry and our writing and speaking--but each day was lived and invested one day at a time, waiting, hoping that our faithfulness mattered.
There were seemingly desolate times of illness, loneliness, financial issues, emotional hurts and separation from other "Christians" that broke our heart. And yet, God kept saying daily in our quiet times,
"Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD." Psalm 27: 14
There just don’t seem to be any verses that say, "Give up now--this is the time." or "Don't be patient with those immature, irrational people in your life--you deserve to quit since life is hard!"
Quite the contrary--verse after verse tells us to wait, hope, work, be steadfast, cultivate faithfulness--to just wait and be patient and we will see God work.
God, by allowing us to wait, is building faith, leadership, spiritual muscle, and maturity into our lives.
Patience is learned moment by moment in irritating circumstances.
It is learned through seasons--(terrible twos, tricky teens, hormonal middle age, old age senility). Teaching your child little by little to be patient, to control His spirit, to exercise self-control, is training your child to learn to wait on God.
Contemporary culture gives us permission to compromise at every point--marriage, commitments, ideals, friendship--we want instant gratification--we are the generation of "I want it now." Yet, God's will is to build the character of Christ in us and His way is to teach us to wait--to rule over our emotions and to be still and know that He is God.
Patience leads to all sorts of strength--spiritual, mental, physical, skill acquisition, musical accomplishment, athletic strength, academic prowess, financial security—so many blessings come through learning to be patient. In the end, the man of medium skill and talent who perseveres is of much greater long term value than the talented, skillful person who quits and gives up.
So as we approach this important way, we must look for all sorts of ways to underline the importance of patience. As you instruct your children in this important virtue, you must be patient, too, as it takes them time to learn this character strength! :)
In what areas do you find it most difficult to be patient?
I am not naturally patient. I wasted many precious seasons of my life wishing them away, someone thinking the next season would be easier. God taught me slowly. Now, I seek more to pace myself and to see each miracle each day. It is still not easy as I am a "fast-paced" person, but I just wish I had not wasted so much time trying to hurry things that needed time to grow, and just enjoyed the process more.