“There was a snail called Herbert, who often got in trouble.
Forgetting that he was a snail, he did things on the double.
He’d crash through spider webs, with crickets he’d collide.
‘Till one day, Herbert’s father sat his speeding son aside –
‘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 when others have to wait on you.'”
The above rhymes are lyrics to a song I learned as a child and then have sung to countless teens over the years I’ve been in student ministry. It is also the song that will illicit eye rolls from my own children when I break into the chorus as I respond to their impatient behavior with me, their daddy, or their sisters.
This morning, the Holy Spirit brought it to my mind as I read my daily devotional from Paul David Tripp’s “New Morning Mercies.”
My toes hurt just a little, but my heart was encouraged too.
On the page, Tripp reminded me of God’s continued patience in His faithfulness to fulfill His good purposes in His right timing: the coming of Jesus to reconcile the Fall, the nation of Israel with her wandering heart, the disciples who never seemed to understand the simplest of lessons and more intimately, with me.
I seem to make the same mistakes, commit the same sins and need to learn the same lessons over and over and over and over again. Yet, God never grows impatient. He doesn’t sigh, or raise His voice or belittle or ridicule me. He only responds gracefully with mercy, not treating me as my short-comings deserve, but patiently working on my heart. I am SO grateful and reassured by these truths.
I am beyond grateful for His patience in my life, but . . . . I am SO slow to exhibit it to others.
Patience is something that many Christians joke and jest that they are afraid to pray for- that if we ask for patience that somehow God will decide to send us trials and tribulations for the express purpose of trying our patience. We feel that we have to somehow muster up the patience on our own to prove to God that we can handle the “things” or the “people” that make us impatient.
Maybe we are hesitant to pray for patience because we don’t want to be in a situation or a circumstance that we can’t handle, where we have to call out for God to intervene and supernaturally provide us with the patience that we couldn’t manufacture on our own.
I know in my desire for self-sufficiency and autonomy, I want to deny the need for the Spirit’s fruit in my life. I want to gut it out and do it on my own. In my pride and self-righteousness, I want everyone else, including and, sometimes especially, God to move and do on my time table. Can anyone relate?
This fruit of the Spirit is only present in my life as evidence of His work in my heart. If I had an indicator gauge to show how much patience was in my life I know it would be directly correlated with how in touch with the Spirit I am at that given moment in time. Sometimes, my lack of patience is like a warning light that tells me I need to slow up, step back and seek above.
I am thankful for the reminder of the silly song above and for the truth of this verse below:
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish.” ~ 2 Peter 3:9
Too often I am one of the “some” that considers God slow. The prior verse talks about how God measures time differently. His ways, and means and, definitely his times are higher, better and purer than mine.
There’s a saying that my husband and I learned from a student minister we both interned for that we repeat a lot to each other. “God is seldom early, but He is always on time.” Amen? Amen!
He is SO patient with me, yet I am SO impatient with others and with Him.
In response, my prayer today is three fold:
Would you dare to join me in my prayers thanking and asking God for patience?
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