There was an old saying when I was growing up that I began to revile after my conversion. That statement, and its variants, went something like,
“Don’t pray for patience because God will answer that prayer.”
To begin, why would you ever think about an interaction with the God of the universe should be avoided because the God of the universe would deign to answer you? This would be like saying, “Don’t ask for an invitation to the Superbowl because when they give it to you, you have to travel there.” So what?!
But when I was growing up, this dysfunctional piece of theology was considered common knowledge. Not just that, wisdom. Why? Because you would probably suffer something to build your patience. Oh well, in that case…
See the only thing worse than suffering to build patience is an utter and complete lack of patience. I titled this piece, “I’m Patient,” because the reality is, impatient is spelled similarly. I’m not a patient person. Eight years before he was officially my pastor, Ray Ortlund told me I had the patience of Job. It was a passing, simple statement and I took it as a light-hearted jest. In the years that followed, it grew more and more prophetic.
The Job part, that is.
The patience part? Not so much. I may be slightly more patient than you. I don’t really know as I am often amazed at the people that stumble on this blog. But I don’t know anyone well enough to say for sure. What I do know is myself. I know that I can see my way into the tenth move of a chess match but I often sabotage myself by being unwilling to play the first nine.
So how is God growing my patience? He’s beginning by showing me how little I have. Not in one way or even fifty, but in the hundreds of small things that have built up around me.
I was complimented, in sincerity the other evening, by a brother of mine who said I was always available. I received that, hopefully with humility and grace, but the dark underpinning of my availability is the speed at which I move and… *sigh*… pride myself on.
I love how fast I am and how fast I move. And that speed gets me complimented. And what directly contradicts that speediness? What directly impacts that pride, that impatience? When things are beyond my control and my influence. I can’t make a job come to me faster than it’s going to. I can’t make my situation resolve itself by sheer force of will. For instance, I track views on my portfolio. Wanna know how this works out when you’re impatient?
“Hmm… it’s been about five minutes, guess I should refresh this log to check. *clicks refresh* Hmm… what if someone was accessing it as I hit the refresh? There would be a delay on the log changing; guess I should refresh the log. *clicks refresh*…”
Rinse and repeat. It’s madness.
So guess what am I praying for now?