Celebrating a most difficult virtue
A boy was standing at the bottom of a “down” escalator looking up. A lady passed by and said, “Are you okay? Are you lost?”
“No ma’am,” he said. “I’m just waitin’ for my chewing gum to come back.”
I like that kid. I admire his patience. The truth is I could use some. 2020 was a year of 100 canceled speaking events. I asked God to hurry up and give me patience. But he didn’t seem to answer that prayer.
A workaholic named Frank wasn’t known for his patience either. His wife called interrupting his busy day. She talked slowly and wasn’t very upbeat. Frank said, “Would you be brief and positive?” She paused, then replied with plenty of perk, “Honey, I discovered something fantastic today! The airbags in our new BMW work great!”
Here are things I’ve learned about hurry:
Don’t be in a hurry cutting grass (I ran over the same extension cord twice). Don’t be in a hurry trimming fingernails. Or nose hairs. Or while petting a large dog.
Here are things I’ve learned about patience:
Comparison kills it, so stop comparing (Psalm 37:7). Trials help it grow, so be grateful (Romans 5:3). Patience produces character, so start trusting (Romans 5:4).
Recently, while stress and deadlines knocked, a letter arrived. Not a text or an email. A letter. In glorious cursive, Ron told me how he had made a fortune. A self-described “impatient workaholic,” he watched his wife walk out on him years ago. His son still won’t talk to him. But one of my books helped him do a 180. God used it to slow him down, point him to things eternal, and ask his family’s forgiveness. “The book saved my life,” he wrote.
Sadly, I’m slow to take my own medicine. Lessons learned years ago I am learning again. So I posted a note on my computer monitor: “Be patient with life. With others. With myself. Remember, God is not in a hurry.” Below it is Philippians 1:6. “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”
God is not in a hurry, nor is he through with us yet. Carved into Ruth Bell Graham’s tombstone are words she noticed after waiting in traffic while workers repaired the road. “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.”
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