Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsSaturday 12 Dec 2020Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 5 minutes
I heard this funny story of a lonely guy who decided that life would be more fun if he had a pet. So he went to the pet store and told the owner that he wanted to buy an unusual pet. After some discussion, he decided on a centipede, which came in a little white box to use as its house.
He took the centipede home, found a good location for the box, and then decided he would start off by taking his new pet to a restaurant to have dinner. So, he asked the centipede in the box, Would you like to go out with me to have dinner? But there was no answer from his new pet. This bothered him a bit, but he waited a few minutes and then asked him again, How about going out for a meal with me?
But again, there was no answer from his new friend and pet. So, he waited a few minutes more, thinking about the situation. He decided to ask him one more time; this time putting his face against the centipede’s house and shouting, Hey, in there! Would you like to go with me to have dinner? A little voice came out of the box from the centipede: Patience man! I heard you the first time! I’m putting on my shoes!
Patience is something that many of us have trouble with. From driving down the motorway and coming to a long line of traffic, and knowing you’re going to be late, to arriving at a long queue at the grocery check-out. We become annoyed and irritated at delays like this. We get worked up—we become very impatient.
It’s Important to Be Patient
One person defined patience as the ability to let your light shine after your fuse has blown. It’s like looking for an expressway exit when you’re headed in the wrong direction; that second hour of Monopoly; and waiting for the light to turn green when you’ve spotted an empty parking space across the intersection.
Yes, patience is a virtue that comes hard for many of us. It’s a quality we admire in others—perhaps the driver behind us, but we can’t stand it in the driver in front of us. Patience is difficult because our pride, selfishness, and anger stand between us and patience. Many of us would have to admit that we find it difficult to be patient.
The most important step we can take to develop patience is to give God control of our life.
The Bible says it is important to be patient. Why is patience talked about in the Bible? Because God is patient with us, we need to be patient with our fellow human beings. And that’s not always easy, is it? Many of the people we must deal with—and sometimes even live with—can be obstinate, frustrating, selfish, inconsiderate, and absolutely impossible to please. They say and do the wrong things at the wrong time. Sometimes, they absolutely unnerve us.
And do you know what? We’re like that sometimes, too. But I think we need to realise that patience flows from understanding. We are too quick to judge, and we are too prone to treat our fellows harshly. They too have troubles—bills to pay, sick children, spouses to please, bosses to impress, and headaches to bear. But let’s try and remember that God is patient and long-suffering. And we need to give one another a break.
Are You a Patient Person?
What patience teaches us most of all is that God is still at work. He hasn’t finished yet. He is working in our world and he’s working in our lives, testing us sometimes, making us think through issues.
Sometimes that’s tough to see. Sometimes it’s tough to believe. We’ve waited and waited and hoped and prayed, and things are still the same. The new job hasn’t come through; our loved one hasn’t gotten well; the situation is still the same. But patience teaches us that God is still at work, and as hard as that may sometimes be to learn, that’s the most important lesson of all.
But it’s tough, isn’t it? The story is told about the great 19th century New England preacher Phillips Brooks who was unusually frustrated and agitated one day. This is the man who wrote “O Little Town or Bethlehem” and he was normally a very controlled, calm person—the sort of man who could write, “… how still we see thee lie.” But this day, he was irritated, and when a close friend asked about it, Brooks said, “Well, I’ll tell you. I’m in a hurry; but God isn’t.” Peter tells us in the New Testament that a 1,000 years are like a day for God. But sometimes, we want God to act and to act right now.
What Patience Teaches Us
Patience teaches us to wait, to remember that God is still in charge. Patience reminds us that God isn’t finished yet. We may not understand all there is to know. But where do we get this quality from? Patience is a hard thing to create. It is virtually impossible to make yourself be patient. We can’t produce patience on our own.
But as we mature in our Christian faith, as we learn to trust more and more that God really is in charge of this world and our lives, then patience is the fruit that grows as a natural result of our relationship with God. Remember, patience is a fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22 says, “God’s Spirit makes us… patient”. It’s a fruit that God will grow. And he grows that fruit as we grow in him. As we learn to trust him, as we learn to rely upon him, as we learn that.
I think the most important step we can take to develop patience is to give God control of our life. “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry,” says Psalm 40:1.
Think of it this way: every time you and I lose our patience we’re saying in effect, I’m in control and God’s not! We’re taking God out of the driver’s seat and putting ourselves in it. I want to talk more about this in Part 2.
(To be continued in How’s Your Patience? – Part 2)