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Patient Being

A simple tests to determine your preparedness for children:

MESS TEST:  Smear peanut butter on the sofa and curtains. Now rub your hands in the cat’s litter box, then on the walls. Cover the stains with a coating of crayon. Place a fish stick behind the couch and leave it there all summer.

TOY TEST:  Obtain a 55-gallon box of Legos (you may substitute roofing tacks or broken bottles). Have a friend spread them all over the house. Put on a blindfold. Try to walk to the bathroom or kitchen. Do not shout expletives as this could wake a sleeping child.

GROCERY STORE TEST:  Borrow one or two small animals (goats are best) and take them with you to the grocery store. Keep them in sight and pay for anything they eat or damage.

FEEDING TEST:  Obtain a large plastic jug. Fill halfway with milk. Suspend the jug from the ceiling and start the jug swinging. Try to insert spoonfuls of applesauce into the mouth of the jug while pretending to be an airplane. Once you’ve succeeded, dump the contents of the jug on the floor.

FISCAL TEST:  Go to the nearest drug store. Set your wallet on the counter. Leave it there. Now proceed to the nearest grocery store and arrange for your paycheck to be directly deposited into their account.

FINAL ASSIGNMENT:  Find a couple who already has a small child. Lecture them on how they can improve on both their disciplinary practices and their exercise of patience. Feel confident that you have all the answers. Take note of their expressions. Now run — fast.

If you’re a parent, you’re both laughing and crying after reading the above.  If you’re not a parent, you’re just laughing…because you think it might just be a joke.  Believe me…I laughed…but I laugh only because most all of the above is so true.  Parenting can teach patience in huge ways.  The Bible says that love is patient.  So if love is patient, what does that look like?  Are you a patient being?  Let’s define patience.  Then Encarta World Dictionary defines it this way:

Patience –  the ability to endure waiting, delay, or provocation without becoming annoyed or upset, or to persevere calmly when faced with difficulties.

From this definition I see two pictures.  One could be of a child waiting in line at the amusement park to get the chance to ride the spinning tea-cups.  Or maybe a child waiting their turn to go to the bathroom…knees together, hands crossed, jumping up and down.  The other picture I see is of an athlete who patiently puts in time, sweat and pain as they wait for the big race that will test their preparation.  One has to wait for something to happen.  The other has to keep moving and putting in the time and effort knowing that with each passing and possibly exhausting moment they get closer to their goal.

In Mark 12:30-31 we are called by Jesus to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no commandment greater than these.”  The church is called to love God and love others.  We are the church.  In order to love well, we need to pay close attention to what love is.  Patience is the first word Paul writes in his definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13.  By Paul’s standard, perfect love includes patience, so we really don’t have the option of simply writing it off as “not one of our gifts.”  I’m usually a patient person.  But ask me about patience when I’m tired or have a migraine or am stressed out and you’ll not see ‘love.’  I hate to admit it but it’s the truth.  Ask my family.  But Jesus doesn’t ask me to love God and others just when I’m feeling well, am well rested or even when I’m stress free.  Paul states that patience is part of this love Christ calls us to and there should be no off/on switch.  If we’re not good at it…we should be compelled to get better.

Why, if we’re not a patient person, would we want to focus on the hard task of getting better?  Look at the possibilities.  Our impatience could turn someone away from God.  Our patience might help someone see the grace of God.  Literally, someone’s decision for Heaven or Hell might rest in our patience…our love toward them.  I’ve seen patience in the prayers someone says earnestly day by day for their lost family member…some 30 years plus.  I’ve seen patience in a mom and dad who continue to raise and care for their mentally and physically challenged child who is over 50 years of age.  I’ve seen patience in the church member who is present in corporate worship knowing their spouse isn’t on the same page and is at home not caring about religious activities.  I’ve seen patience in the employee who continues to work in a stress filled rat race environment knowing that they may be the only ‘peace of God’ their co-worker has ever seen in life.  I’ve seen patience in the Sr. Higher who comes to their teen family group consistently all the while being downgraded by their parents for believing in God.  I’ve seen patience in the person who is battled with health issues and never blames their Creator but constantly searches for how their story might be helpful to someone else.

Patience isn’t just a virtue.  It’s a character trait of God.  We are asked to be patient, a part of Godly love, because our God is a patient God.  How many times could He have just written us off as not worthy, a consistent failure, untrustworthy, hypocritical or without love?  Probably daily with me.  But even though I was still in my sin, He has accepted Jesus’ death on the cross as payment for my faults.  That’s patience.  He doesn’t give up.  He waits.

Now, there will be an end to all things this side of Heaven.  But His patience will endure till then, and He asks us to operate our lives with the same level of patience.  How can you be more patient this week with the specific purpose of showing someone God’s love in a different way than you have before?  Maybe it’s in the words you use.  Maybe it will be the thing that you give up in order spend more time with someone else.  Maybe it will be the extra things you do knowing that in time God will reward you for them…even if you are not recognized for them in the here and now.  Patience.  Tough?  Yes.  Worth it in the end?  Eternally.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,


Questions for Growth:

  • Who do you need to be more patient with this week?
  • How will you show patience to that person?
  • How will you prepare for your ‘time of patience?’  What do you need to pray for ahead of time?
  • Are you ok with God showing you…maybe in BOLD FACED LETTERS…where you are weak in the realm of patient living?  If yes…be ready.  : – )
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