“Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”
You know, it seems to me that people had more patience in the 60’s and 70’s when I was growing up then they do now. We lived on a farm and it was just natural to follow the seasons and wait for each crop to grow until it was ready for harvest. At the right time, all the farmers around us would start their harvesting, followed by plowing and then finally seeding for the next crop. We would pull up behind a big tractor or combine on the road and drive slowly behind them until the farmer pulled off into a side road to let us pass. I wonder what happened to that patience. Today I can’t even sit at a green light for ½ a second too long without someone blowing their horn behind me!
What feeds this impatience? And how can I adjust my life enough so that I can slow down and appreciate the day? I have a few ideas, let me run them by you and maybe you can help me figure it out.
I work for a major Information Technology company on one of the largest accounts in the world. I use multiple computers to manage projects that help my customer push their product to the world faster so that their competition never gets the chance to outdo them in the marketplace. I am driven to do my work faster and faster and it brings me to the edge of my patience if my computer is slow. When I leave work I may sit in a traffic jam and I still have that adrenalin rushing through me from the pace of my work during the day. I can choose to do one of two things. I can use that driving time to get angry with the people around me for being so slow (who, by the way, know nothing of my self-righteous right to own the road). Or…I can use this time to listen to soothing music, pray for those around me, and unwind so I can be refreshed by the time I get home. Can you tell who is doing which choice by looking at the people in the cars around you? Can they see which choice you are making by the expression on your face? (By the way, did you know that if you are praying your whole countenance changes? Try it, it’s pretty neat.)
Another way I think that we are being pushed to impatience is in raising our children. If you watch the “cartoons” (and I say this very loosely) of today, and compare them to even 20 years ago, you will be shocked. Now, there are some good ones, but even the “good” are rushing our children of 2 and 3 years old to learn a second language, learn their numbers and alphabet and play grown-up games. Where is the relaxation? Where is the laughter? Ah! I think I’ve got it…we’ve forgotten how to teach our children to laugh! We worry about what they know academically from the time they are born. “Johnny is 2 weeks old and started to walk yesterday. What is your Jimmie doing?” I was like that with my oldest son. I couldn’t wait until he did this, accomplished that and I always bought toys way beyond his years. I thank God for second chances. There are 9 years between my oldest son and my oldest daughter and I learned that I wanted her to stay little as long as possible. I encouraged her to play with toys that were appropriate for her age and I taught her as I realized she was ready to learn. I made sure that the TV shows she watched as a teen didn’t encourage her to experiment with feelings that should be rightly saved for her husband. I cherished each day with her at each age. Patience, these children are not young for long.
And finally, I think that we have lost our patience with God. I can remember my Mammah saying that all the signs were there and that Jesus was coming soon. That was over 50 years ago and I’m still waiting. Sometimes I catch myself wanting to hurry up and worship and it better be exactly as I expect it to be because I only have so much time. OK, sermon time. I really want to go to the altar to pray so let’s get on with it. Twelve o’clock, aren’t you done yet? Come on, where is the invitation hymn? What happened to the old church services where they let God lead and we followed? There may or may not be praise music, it’s up to God how long we sing, not the listing that we start out with. And the sermon? If the preacher is anointed and speaking God’s Word who am I to want them to stop? If I enter the church patiently waiting for the infilling of the Holy Spirit, God will be faithful to fill me. And if the whole church enters that way, well, just praise God! We’re in for a revival!
God calls us to be patient, simply put, God calls us. It’s up to us how we spend our time either frantically rushing through life, or embracing the life that God has given to us and our families. What will you choose today? Think about this next time you are in a traffic jam. “…be patient and stand firm.” God loves you.