I read a devotional about patience this morning, and some verses immediately came to mind:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
I used to think that these were qualities I had to work really hard at to produce on my own. While it is true that it takes some effort/willingness on my part, I was missing the whole point! These are fruits of the Spirit. These qualities are a result of being close to God. If I remain in Christ and he remains in me, I will bear much fruit (John 15:5).
I hadn’t really thought about this before, but patience is an area I have grown in this year. This song that my parents used to sing doesn’t annoy me so much anymore:
Have patience, have patience
Don’t be in such a hurry
When you get impatient, you only start to worry
Remember, remember that God is patient, too
And think of all the times when others have to wait for you
I sat there, wondering why, and it came to me! I am simply spending more time with the Lord. God has been drawing me into a deeper relationship with him through prayer, Bible study, and community. When I do these things, God changes me to look more like him. It is important to remember that he changes me by his goodness, graciousness, and nothing I could ever do. Just like when I accepted Jesus as my one and only Savior, I am relying on God’s grace power and love to change me each and every day.
Sometimes, change can be super painful. I am a human who lives in my sinful ways and doesn’t like the trouble that comes with looking more like Christ. Other times, I think God changes us without us even noticing! Simply by regular time in his word and prayer, I can look back and see how much God was growing me all the while. This is what occurred when I reflected on patience.
God is growing me in ways in France that wouldn’t have happened in America. I’ll start with somewhat of a silly example, but it gets the job done. 🙂 Because of where we are located, we have extremely slow internet. If I want to FaceTime a friend, I normally have to tell everyone else in the house to get off of the wifi for the call to be able to go through. Sometimes, Netflix takes forever to buffer when I am at the best part in the show. This has built such patience in me. Instead of complaining that the call dropped or that the show is buffering, I am starting to sit there in patience, being thankful that I even have internet. By teaching me in a small way, God is preparing me to have patience on a bigger scale.
I have also learned about patience from French culture. One thing I love about France is meals. It is truly a time of learning about each other’s lives and loving each other. When I go to the seminary with Dad, all of the students and teachers sit and eat together for a wonderful hour of fellowship. We have enjoyed lots of evenings catching up with friends and sharing a delicious meal together. I have had wonderful meals in America too, but I feel like we tend to rush. We are impatient. Whether it be in waiting for the food to be served or waiting for everyone to finish so we can leave, we tend to impatiently scarf down our food at mealtimes, claiming we have other stuff to do. God has taught me to slow down, to patiently enjoy each moment he has given me.
On a much larger scale, I am learning about waiting patiently on the Lord. My devotional book titled NOW by Andy Blanks talks about how it is important to have a “vision” on how we want to impact the world for God’s glory. It also explains that while we have a rough plan, it is important to remember that God’s timing is different than our timing. As a planner, I think I know the time I will finish college, the time I will finish seminary, the time I will get married, and the time I will step out into the mission field. If things don’t happen exactly when I want them to, I get anxious and feel like they are never going to happen. Just as I said last week, how silly am I? God’s plan is perfect, why would I not wait on his perfect timing? Habakkuk 2:2-3 says:
And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision, make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end – it will not lie. If it seems slow wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
I would like to share with you what the book says about waiting, because it is worded much better than I could express this idea. 🙂
“Sometimes, as we seek to be used by God for a specific task, we have to wait for the timing to be right. Now, there’s a right way to wait and a wrong way to wait. The right way to wait is productive waiting. As you wait for God to set in motion the big thing, be faithful in the little things. While waiting on God to answer a prayer or open a door, make sure that you life is making a difference in the world while you wait.” – Andy Blanks
Praise the Lord that he graciously produces fruit in us, only by his grace and goodness. I pray that we may all remember to serve him while waiting on the video to load, serve him while we are enjoying a nice, long meal, and serve him when we are waiting for him to set the “big thing” in motion.