Somewhere in my early 40’s I clearly remember having a conversation with someone who told me, “You know, you’re really patient. You always seem to have this peace about you.” I thanked them, and I thought, Hmm. I am patient. God has really taught me the beauty of patience. I’m glad I’ve gotten that down.
Bwaahaahaa! It must’ve been like I’d issued a challenge out to the universe that said, “Please. Come and give me every occasion to test the true plumb line of my patience. Now!” Within a week or two, challenge after challenge started coming my way, and I very quickly learned, No. I am not patient. In fact, sometimes I am anything but!
Over the years I’ve learned that as soon as I think I’ve “arrived” somewhere, God shows me a whole new layer of that very thing I need to grow in. And thus begins a deeper exploration of my character, stretching me into a fuller understanding of what it really means to live a genuine, peace-filled, faith-driven life. Through the process, I’ve come to understand that my solutions tend to be results-oriented. I am a true child of the microwave society. I want it hot, fast and now! But God seems far more interested in carving out my character through relationship with Him over time. It’s not that wanting results are bad. God put that drive in me for a reason, and I get a lot accomplished because of it. I believe God put that drive in me and when I allow Him to harness it, He does some pretty remarkable things through me, ordinary though I am. The difference lies in how I approach it. Will I direct my steps, or will I submit to the Lord and let Him direct me?
When God’s directing, it always leads to rich blessing and peace. I love the results, and they are far more abundant than anything I get on my own. TRANSLATION=IT’S SO WORTH IT!!! But, when God leads the results aren’t often immediate or clear. His direction sometimes makes no sense to me from my very limited human perspective, and I don’t understand the why’s or the how’s, something my inner control freak deeply craves. It’s in those moments my faith and my patience are put to the test, where I can struggle to trust in the Lord and in His mighty power. I start to get this crazy idea that somehow I can do it better, even though every experience has shown me the lie that statement really is.
Then there are the times I’m asked to sit still and wait. That is the direction since I don’t have clarity. Lack of clarity from God doesn’t mean run ahead, therefore, and do your own thing. It actually means I need to WAIT. I immediately think of Proverbs 19:21 which says, “A person may have many ideas concerning God’s plan for his life, but only the designs of His purpose will succeed in the end” (TPT). I’ve learned sitting still isn’t a place of stagnation. It is actually an active space of listening, of frequently checking in with my Creator to allow Him to gently guide me forward in His timing since His plan work best. Running ahead has only given me a bruised forehead and bloodied knees. I still arrive where God would have me go, but I made the journey far more laborious and sometimes more traumatic than it needed to be out of my impatience and deep seeded desire for control.
The power, the freedom, the growth and the peace all come into play when I choose to surrender. My timing, my need for control, my impatience and my desire for results are laid on the altar before the Cross. I have to forcefully pry my fingers off of what I’m holding onto through prayer and the reading of God’s word, sometimes one finger at a time, until I release fully what I’ve been holding onto and lay it at His feet. The very feet that were pierced for my transgressions, that walk ahead of me so my path could be easy and light when I faithfully surrender and trust (Matthew 11:29-30).
So, I wrestle to let go. I wrestle to surrender. I allow the truth of God’s word to continually cut off the head of that slithering two-headed beast called Impatience & Pride. I embrace the sometimes waivering, not always straight-forward faith of my heroes like Moses and Peter. I remember that even Jesus, perfect though He was, had to cry out to God with fervent cries and tears in order to obey fully (Hebrews 5:7). In that space of reaching for God, I find rest for my soul. I find blessing upon blessing. My eyes see more clearly the beauty of all that is around me. And yes—my ability to embrace patience grows.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT God shows us His path for us in many ways. Sometimes it comes through prayer and reflection, or fresh insight. Sometimes it’s a door that is clearly wide open and we feel His nudge to walk through. It can be a scripture that jumps out and hits you in a new way, or the exact words being spoken or sung that you needed to hear. But don’t forget that God will also nudge us to do the uncomfortable. To wait when we want to move. To knock on a door that feels very closed. Or, a sense that we shouldn’t move through a door that seems wide open and easy. Those are the moments when our obedience is put to the test.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:33, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (KJV). Oftentimes for me, it’s not that I’m confused with what I’m being asked to do; I just don’t like or fully understand it. Yet my greatest growth moments and times of blessing have blossomed and flowered from choosing obedient faith even when it’s counterintuitive, even when it’s hard. Don’t quit when the going feels rough or unclear! Keep fighting to open your hands and surrender to Jesus that which you seek to hold onto. Remember His words of encouragement to us: “When the time was right, I answered you; on the day you were delivered, I was your help,” and “I’ll make all my mountains into roads, turn them into a superhighway” (Isaiah 49:8, 11 VOICE, MSG).
God alone can level those mountains in your life and smooth out your path. Choose surrender. You’ve got this because God has YOU!
PRAYER Lord, how impatient I am. Like a petulant child, I want it my way and in my timing. I want my path to always be simple and easy. I don’t like to struggle. Yet I know and fully acknowledge that it is through my trials You have shown me the depths of your mercy, kindness and infinite love in a way that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. Thank You that You are always patient in the midst of my impatience, and faithful in the midst of my complete lack of faith. Your ways are not my ways, and Your thoughts are not my thoughts. THANK YOU for that!! I love what You do in my life, and I have learned and continue to learn how much richer my life is when You are the one leading it. Help me to open up my hands, especially in those moments where they have become tightly clenched fists, and surrender to You all that I am. Help me to find Your fresh paths of adventure and peace You have laid out for me before time began. Thank You especially that You remember I am but dust, so You are incredibly humble and gentle with me even when I am unkind with myself. How good You are! How mighty! Your love overwhelms me in the best of ways. May I honor You with my obedient choices today, Papa. Amen.