Let me start off by saying that I am not a patient person.
When I see that a stoplight is turning yellow up ahead, I pump my foot on the gas so that I don’t lose momentum. Instead of sending a coworker an email about a task that I know can be discussed at a later date, I still decide to walk across the building to immediately get the answer that I need. If I am watching a movie or television show and am losing interest in a particular scene, I fast forward to a point where I know I will become engaged once again. Patience has never been my forte because being patient means having to slow down. And in a world where technology has given each of us the opportunity to obtain information within seconds, one could easily understand why I would want to keep up with the pace. After all, time is fleeting.
So you can only imagine how anxious I became when Steve Carter revealed that the fourth week of our Cultivate series was about how to “cultivate patience in a culture of efficiency.” Needless to say, I instantly started shifting in my seat, knowing that whatever words were about to be preached were going to be ones that I didn’t necessarily want to hear but ones that I also knew were what I would ultimately need to hear.
And man, was I right.
The part of Steve’s sermon that really hit home for me was the idea of enduring patience in the face of suffering. While not everyone endures extreme levels of suffering, not one person goes without experiencing some form of pain that forever affects the way that they live life—inevitably changing their identity from that moment forward. And in the midst of those defining moments, we are expected to press on, to not lose ground. There are times when I am in the middle of the wilderness that is my life and I feel that I am aimlessly wandering about, asking God when this heavy phase will be over so that I can move on to the next one: the one that will hopefully be more lighthearted. But what I have failed to realize up until recently is that, while I am aimlessly wandering and asking God to remove my stresses, I am not really asking for Him to help me through my toughest times. What I am really asking is for Him to relieve my impatience so that I can go back to living life without doing the work of relinquishing control and surrendering myself to Him. What I’m really asking is to return back to the normalcy of living life at a surface level.
Maybe you have been living life just like I have. Maybe you, too, have a lead foot or are constantly on your phone or can’t seem to hold a conversation because your mind is wandering off to a different place. We’re all guilty of something. But by living our lives this way, we end up missing the macroscopic greatness that is God’s plan for us on Earth. We fail to acknowledge the fact that Jesus endured the ultimate suffering so that we can have the final exhale and stand our ground when adversity comes. We eventually end up becoming comfortable with living life without un-comfortability. But while Our Father is never more than a few steps away from us at all times, it is our responsibility to turn off our brains (and phones) and turn our attention towards Our Creator when we feel ourselves growing impatient—for He uses those times of surrender as moments to plant seeds for how we will be used to fulfill His purpose.
Lord knows that I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to practicing patience. I know that I am going to go through seasons in the future where I will fight tooth and nail to relinquish control or will forget that my identity is not in the amount of information that I gather through technology but by the amount of love that has been shown by God when He sacrificed His one and only Son on Earth so that I can one day have salvation in Heaven. And I know that I will need plenty of reassurance for when I am going through my toughest of times that there is a reason for my suffering. But just in case I find myself forgetting or losing ground as I walk through this life, He is always there, ready to keep me firmly planted with His grace.