Cultivating Patience in an Amazon Prime World
When it comes to patience I believe mine comes through my family. I have four daughters.. That is the world I live in. There is a lot of hair. My hashtag is #minorityinasorority. So as I was trying to figure out how to communicate the ways that God teaches me patience, I decided to share a family story with you.
We make a yearly trip to Grant Pass, Oregon. It is a fun family trip, about 1500 miles in all and that is a lot for a household of girls. Our luggage is mostly shoes. I am pretty linear, and I know ahead of time the route I am going to take every year. I knew I make a stop just after Portland. Because we don’t want to stop in Portland.
But this year we made the decision to take a different route which is risky. We decided we were going to split the trip up. Unfortunately, making it into a two-day trip put us in Portland right in the middle of rush hour. So, I’m stuck in traffic and everyone is hungry and needs to use the bathroom. Every single one of my girls is yelling at the other and my organized trip is off the rails. The girls are all complaining saying “She is looking at me” “She is talking to me” and I literally say this: “Stop looking at each other, stop talking to each other, stop thinking about each other... We’re done!!! My impatience had hit a high.
Here we were in the middle of a wonderful family trip, everyone is happy with smiling faces, and within a matter of minutes all of that was off the rails.
As I look around at our culture, I believe we have lost the ability to be patient with each other. What are some of the things I become impatient with? I find I will even lose my temper over silly things. Like fast food – I’m thinking five minutes is not fast!! Ten minutes is not fast food! It was amazing when Amazon came out with two-day shipping, but once one day shipping is here we will never go back! We are an increasingly fast culture – we are moving from 4G to 5G and I’m thinking, why don’t we just skip that and go directly to 6 or 7G?
Everything is getting faster, yet we are increasingly impatient. And before you think this is just my struggle let me ask you something. If you are at the grocery store in a checkout line and the line next to you starts moving faster do you get frustrated? What do you do? If you change lines and then the one you were in starts moving do you get even more frustrated?
What if you are on the freeway and you are in the left lane trying to go faster, and cars are passing you on the right because the person in front of you is going slow – do you find yourself frustrated? Or how quickly do you grow impatient when the Internet goes down and you get that spinning circle of death? For most of us it is just a matter of seconds!
The quicker the pace in our society the more impatient we seem to become. Here is the tension we face when we are talking about the fruit of the Spirit. How do we cultivate deep roots in our lives? Each one of the fruits of the Spirit take patience, every one of them takes patience. And we struggle with hurry sickness. We have this insatiable desire to go quicker and quicker, yet the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
As a church, we went through Henry Blackaby’s book Experiencing God. Here is the main point from that study. God is always working, where can I join him? In the book Blackaby says: “See where God is working and join him.” This ties in to patience in that when we see God’s story we can see where he is working, but the most important thing in the story is God, not me. My part is to come alongside God and say: "God where are you working in the lives of the people around me?" God is doing amazing, miraculous things. Sometimes I don’t see that. Sometimes I get so centered in my world that all I can see is my own perspective, my own hardships and sufferings. But when I step back and look at what God is doing around me I can’t help but see that he is up to something. God is aware of and knows every single person in every home across the world right now. He is part of their story and my story and our story. That is the God we serve. And we have the opportunity to join him.
I would like to share a personal story with you. Three years ago, I discovered a mass on my body. And I knew something wasn’t right. I made an appointment with the Doctor to check it out. A few weeks later at the appointment the Doctor agreed that we needed to see what was going on. So, he scheduled a scan – we had to wait another few weeks for that. It kind of became a joke for my wife and I that everything in the medical field is ‘a few weeks out’. So we had the scan and it was determined that it was not just a simple cyst, it was a solid mass. So they scheduled a surgery to remove it – you guessed it – a few weeks later. We were in a crazy season of waiting to know what it was and what was going on. They removed the mass and did a biopsy and the results, which came in a few weeks later, were that it was cancerous. In fact, there were two kinds of cancer in my body. After they removed it we had to wait a few weeks for bloodwork and another scan to see if I was cancer free. Praise God, three months out from when I discovered the mass I got the all clear results.
Now three months in the scheme of a life is just a little blip, but I learned something from that process that I would not have traded for anything. I learned that in the waiting God was working. Have you ever had to wait on God in your life? Did he teach you anything during that time? I know there are more significant stories than mine out there. But even then, God is working in the waiting. God is working through time. He allows things in our lives to shape us in ways that we wouldn’t have grown without.
Patience allows time for God to work around me and in me, and it also allows time for him to work through me. When I look to the Bible I think the story of Joseph in Genesis 37-41 really illustrates this well. Joseph’s brothers had a plot to kill him, but ended up selling him into slavery. He is sent to Egypt where he works as a slave in the household of the captain of the guard of all Pharaohs armies. He excels in this household and is given great responsibility there until the captain’s wife falsely accuses him of rape, and he is sent to prison. The conclusion of Joseph’s story is that after many years of waiting, God raises him up to a position of power and brings a famine to the land. His brothers came to him for food, not knowing he was their brother, and Joseph not only has the chance to forgive them for what they did, God uses him as an instrument of redemption for the entire house of Israel.
Joseph went through years of struggle and suffering and God did amazing things through him. He trusted God and allowed time for God to work around him. He entered in where God was working. And at the end of Genesis this is what Joseph said to his brothers.
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20
When I look back through the Bible and look at the people that God did amazing things through I feel encouraged. Because they all had failures. And God was patient with them, and that gives me confidence that God is also patient with me.
Because I'm a perfectionist, my perspective of the father God at times can be skewed through this lens. That if I'm not perfect, God won't love me. If I don't do all the right things in the right order – then he doesn't look at me with loving kindness. And that is absolutely not true. Because here's the amazing thing, God is long-suffering with me. You see the fruit of the spirit comes directly from the Holy Spirit - the person and the work of God. What God has done through the spirit is a picture of what that means in my life. So, I have confidence that he is faithful and working in me. 2 Peter 3:8-9 says: “But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.”
God doesn’t count time the way that people do – his view is different and he is patient with us.
So how do we take on the kind of patience that God has? The kind that is talked about as the fruit of the Spirit? Galatians 6:9 says: “So let us not get tired of doing good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we do not give up.” So, as we talk about the journey of cultivating patience in our lives I realize that it is not a quick thing – that it takes time. We need to stay rooted. Our roots need to go down deep as we continue to feed and water them. At just the right time we will get a harvest. But you don’t get a harvest without the planting, without the cultivating, without the growing. And that all takes time. Be patient...
Real Life Ministries
To watch the video of Chris’s talk on this topic click HERE