As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12
A woman stopped me in the hall after a meeting at church and asked if I had ever considered writing about patience. I hadn’t ….but, I always try to be open to what the Spirit is saying, so… The women said she didn’t think that having patience meant to sit around and do nothing. Was there an implied, “Does it?” at the end or was that my own question? I don’t make a habit of praying for patience. We joke about it, though, saying that praying for it will bring upon us opportunities to practice. Maybe opportunities would occur anyway.
The next day, I read this quote by Henri Nouwen: “Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.”
Dictionaries say that patience is a noun and, basically, it is a quality, capacity or habit. Patience is something we have. Now, I just want to rush right out and buy some, but patience is a fruit of the Spirit. “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” ~ Galatians 5:22ff. Fruit develops in us when we stay attached to the vine from which it comes. Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” ~ John 15:5. Patience is not something we can manufacture on our own or buy even if we wish it.
I stay attached by spending quiet time with Jesus listening- paying attention, being still with him. This is what I can “do”. If further action is required, which usually requires some discernment, I often find the answer in the stillness. Patience requires a certain amount of trust that God has it covered and our attitude should be one of gratitude.
I have a current example. My husband and I hope to move into a patio home. We hadn’t thought to move but we kept having problems with our older home that we aren’t able to fix on our own. I would post these issues on Facebook, occasionally, and a Friend reported that her husband said we shouldn’t fix anything but sell to them. I thought she was joking. But when she kept “joking” I realized God was speaking. In short, we said we would sell our house and begin looking for another. We found one we want; it seems right, but the owner’s daughter hasn’t given a price, yet. Maybe, it’s not God’s plan – maybe it is. Our Friends house is in the process of being sold and we need to move in about one month. We made an offer on the one we want, and we are waiting. We are praying, friends are praying. I am trying to stay attached to Jesus hoping patience is ripe while we wait for further instructions. Most of the time, I have patience. But ONE month……? Really? Breathe. Be still. Listen. Good practice for Lent.
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. ~ Colossians 1:11-12