I love my Kindle. I love it because it’s convenient, and I can carry tons of books in a single, small device. Even more than that, I love it because when I decide to purchase a book, it’s just right there. Like magic. I hit the “purchase” button, and 10 seconds later, the book is in my “library.”
You see, I am not patient, by nature. When a decision is made, I want the instant gratification. This is something that I don’t like about myself. I wish I was more patient. Don’t get me wrong, I can wait for things…but I don’t love it.
And when it comes to questions of life, or faith, or spirituality, I have noticed that there is an awkward in-between time. It is the time between when a question is asked, and when it is answered. When I was a student pastor, I had to work at Mercy and United Hospitals in the Twin Cities. The experience was called “Clinical Pastoral Education” (CPE). Our CPE cohort would meet every week to talk about and process our week. Our supervisor would meet with us and would ask us to talk about our experiences and how they affected us and our ability to do our work.
Occasionally, I would have an experience and I wasn’t certain if I’d handled it as well as I could. So I’d ask the supervisor for feedback. I learned quickly that he would never answer my question. Never. He would smile at me, and then would ask, “Well Todd, what do you think?” (What? Well, if I knew that, I wouldn’t have asked you!”)
I hated those moments. I just wanted him to answer my question.
But life isn’t that simple. Sometimes we need to practice patience.
“The Lord is not slow about his promise as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”2 Peter 3:9
I am grateful that God does not share my lack of patience. The God of eternity takes the long view. Always. There is a only a very fine line separating the meaning of “patience” from the meaning of “grace.” God erases that line.
Despite my own impatience, despite the fact that I sometimes forget to think of others before myself, despite my sinful and broken nature, God loves me. Over and over and over again. God refuses to give up on me. God is patient. Because God wants me to “come to repentance.”
God wants the same for you. We are all, to one level or another, impatient when compared with the patience of God, which is never-ending.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about during these 12 weeks of sabbatical is my own level of patience and about how I’d like to be and do better. I would like to reflect better the patience of God, who looks at me and says “It’s ok, Todd. I forgive you. Hang in there and keep trying. You’ll do better. I”m taking the long view.”
Thanks be to God for the gift of love and patience. It is undeserved. Completely undeserved. But yet it is given to us.
May we all learn to take the long view.