This morning as I sat with the texts of today (Psalm 25: 1-10. 9: 15-25, 2 Timothy 4: 1-5) I find myself thinking about waiting and the spiritual fruit of patience.
I would write that as we endure this cold freeze where kids are home from school for days on end and we find ourselves just waiting for warmth - that NOW we need to be patience. But the truth is that every day of my life is a call to patience about something. In this retirement journey I am patiently waiting for the next thing to reveal itself in my life. At the same time, I know my church is patiently waiting for the next leader to emerge. In the Daniel text there is a definite timeline given for restoring and rebuilding Jerusalem and that helps in the waiting. But for most of us in life - it is waiting and not knowing exactly when....
I learned that the Greek word for patience is "great soul" and I suspect that as I become more comfortable with waiting it does enlarge my soul. As I have learned over and over again that God's timing is perfect - but only in retrospect.
The Timothy passage is directed to leaders to proclaim "the message" to people who - in the waiting time - have "itching ears." I love that phrase. I looked up this text in Peterson's "The Message" and he said it this way: "People will fill up o spiritual junk food, catchy opinions that tickle their fancy and chase mirages."
And I think there are three mirages that continue to appeal to people that lead nowhere
1. You can avoid the wilderness
2. perfection is possible
3. you can control your destiny
It isn't just the culture that encourages us to run away from times of struggle and confusion. That is what addiction is all about, isn't it? I also think we want to believe that if we are good and faithful people, God will lead us into comfort. Over and over again the story of faith about the journey in and out of the wilderness. The wilderness is so often the place where we meet God in a new way and find ourselves changed.
The demon of perfectionism is so real and until we live into accepting our limitations and receiving grace we end up unhappy, in denial, judging etc etc
It seems to me that there is a "both and" to every life. We have free will and make choices that will lead us into certain experiences, however there is much we cannot control - whether it is a job market, or racism, or health issues, or other people. So much we cannot control. It is easy to want to give up or become cynical. But God is at work in the midst of everything and we can be lead into a deeper and mature faith.
But through all of this the message of God's presence, power, love and call. That leads me (eventually) into trusting Waiting patiently. Enduring. Being "persistent whether the time is favorable or unfavorable."
So I begin this cold day with the word PATIENCE as I continue to remember that I can trust God in the wilderness, in the cold, in the reality of my weakness and strength, my darkness and light.
Here is a quote from Joan Chittister
"The spiritual life is a process of growing into maturity one mistake, one unsuccessful effort at a time, until we finally realize that there is no such thing as a spiritual mistake. All we need to do to turn them all into gain is to learn from them.....Prepare, prepare, prepare. And then wait. In God's good time, God's will will come." (The Breath of the Soul)
Make me to know your ways O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long. (Psalm 25: 4,5)