Monday, July 7, 2008

Patience

Well, I'm finally back to blogging. Thanks for your patience with me. The last quarter of school was overwhelming for me, but by God's grace we all got through it. The good thing about not blogging quickly though was that I have had 4 months to think and meditate on patience. I have always been amazed that in saving me God has taken a person who was essentially on death row and had no inclination to please him; not only paid my penalty and justified me, but adopted me into His family and is now patiently raising me as His child.

That thought has really intrigued me of late. As sophisticated, intelligent, or strong I may sometimes fancy myself, in reality, to Him I'm always a child. And He is patiently raising me to grow up into a mature man of the stature and image of Christ. His patience is the pattern of patience that my love must display to others.

I find that there are many challenges to patience, and I am speaking of patience toward people, not circumstances. I spend most of my time in an educational environment. It of course requires contact with people on many levels. Patience is the ability to restrain from becoming angry, provoked, or acting toward anyone in an unloving manner no matter what they do.

Challenges to patience take many forms. In evaluating my tendency toward impatience I find that it is not always the same thing that someone does that sets me off. It is rather that it has to do with the state of my heart at any given moment.

As an educator and administrator in theological circles I naturally have requests of all sorts from students, pastors, pulpit committees, other faculty and administration, board members, applicants, donors, potential donors, information seekers, creditors, vendors, etc.

Then as a father of eight I can add requests concerning homeschool, athletic activities, music lessons, hobbies, discipline, desires, college, driving, entertainment, wet pants, bloddy noses, sicknesses, etc.

As a husband I add the desires and needs of my wife and inlaws. As a son and brother there are always considerations for my parents, brothers, neices, nephews, etc.

As a shepherd in the church there is always the constant concern for the many needs of the flock. As a board member for a missionary organization, there are the needs of missionaries, teaching at conferences, fund raising, etc.

As a friend there are friendship considerations; and as a neighbor there are all of those issues that neighbors bring like concern over lawns and fences, parking, trees, parties, children, etc.

And then there are all of those people we encounter through our daily existence, UPS man, postal worker, bank teller, door-to-door salesmen, JWs, Mormans, Store clerks, other drivers, DMV personel, etc.

I am probably forgetting some people, but the point is that there are so many people in my life (which I absolutely love by the way) that there is always going to be someone who does something that is provoking, irritating, demanding, or in some other way calls me to be unselfish. And that is really what it all boils down to. At every moment in relationship to other people I have a choice to make: Am I going to be selfish or am I going to serve?

In my heart I need to continue to go to the Lord, see Christ patiently enduring the cross for me, see the Father's patience for me, depend upon the Holy Spirit, pray to the Lord regularly, especially in those trying circumstances, dying to my own selfish desires.