As the name of this blog and the picture up top suggest, I love adventure in the mountains. I also love winter. In fact, it’s my favorite season. There's backcountry skiing, ice climbing, and ice hockey. These are probably my favorite things to do. But we are now into March, which means winter is winding down, and though that excites most people, it saddens me. But this year, though it is March, winter is hanging on and the powder is still piling up in the mountains and there's still ice on the pond for hockey and ice in the mountains for climbing! The only problem is, an injury has me out of commission for a few weeks, and it's killing me! Worse, I was impatient and pushed it when I shouldn't have, setting back the healing process even more. So now I have to be more patient. I confess—sometimes I’m not very patient. Patience is hard for me, especially when I feel like the opportunities are slipping away with time.
Church planting and evangelism are similar. I want things to happen now. Or I want to tell people about Jesus or about our vision for our church as soon as I meet them, even before building a relationship with them. But things like church planting or bringing others to faith in Christ do not happen quickly. They take time, and that requires patience. I have to learn to wait on God. Patience is hard.
The other day I met a couple in the coffee shop. Before you know it I’m telling them about our church plant. They don’t know me at all. Why didn’t I wait and look for future opportunities to get to know them better? I’ll tell you why. It is because I got impatient. Anxious might be a better word. Sure, I’m excited and passionate about my faith and our vision. But I really don’t think that is why I’m sometimes too quick to tell people what I’m doing or to share my faith. I think it is a lack of trust in God. If I had waited, trusting God for further opportunity in the future, I might have gotten to know them better and then shared my faith more naturally. But once again, I was impatient. Patience is hard.
The reason patience is hard is because it means waiting on God to act. And that takes trust. Patience is about faith. It is about letting go and letting God be in control of my life. It’s about trusting God to act in his timing instead of me acting in mine.
In the Old Testament book of Isaiah, the prophet Isaiah says to the people of Israel:
Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel,
‘My way is hidden from the LORD
And the justice due me escapes the notice of my God’?
Israel was impatient as they suffered oppression. They thought God didn’t care. So Isaiah answers:
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth
Does not become weary or tired.
His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.” (Isa 40.27-31)
Is there anything in your life right now that is testing your patience? Maybe your teenagers. Or maybe you’re looking for a job. Or maybe you’re struggling with an illness or disease or injury that you’ve prayed to God about but he hasn’t seemed to answer. Maybe it is a spouse that is cold and unresponsive. Or maybe it’s someone you’ve shared your faith with but they haven’t responded positively. In these kinds of situations, patience is hard because patience means you let go and wait on God to take care of it. It’s out of your hands. And that takes trust. But God promises strength and endurance to those who wait on him.
I’m feeling pretty good today, the sun’s out, and it’d be a great day to hike up the mountain. But I think I’ll go for a walk instead. Patience. It's hard. But so much better.