How patient are you?
Most of us joke about our lack of patience. It’s a confession wrapped in a smile. The author of a book I’m reading now said it best: I’m impatient. That is, I like to control other people’s time.
That’s a great way to think about it.
Let me ask you another question. How patient are you with God? Are you willing to confess your desire to control God’s time? If you’re going to have a trust in God, you’re going to need to be patient with God.
I know how that sounds. Who do I think I am that I need to be patient with God Almighty? The Lord needs to be patient with me. There’s no denying that. And I don’t mean to suggest our patience with God is like God’s patience with us. Although, there might be biblical precedence for it.
Need I remind you God doesn’t operate by our desperate sense of time?
Please don’t take this any other way than I mean it. I feel a strong communion with God. I internalize my admonishment of others. How many times have you heard me preach to you the importance of the spiritual disciplines? Never worry that I don’t also preach to myself.
Even so, there are times I feel God doesn’t “show up.” There isn’t always that voice that speaks with such clarity you can’t ignore. Sometimes, I have to ask God, “You are listening, right?”
It’s in those moments we learn how much our patience with God links to our trust in God.
In the story of David’s anointing, we see this patience and trust on display. It’s from the prophet Samuel. God instructs Samuel to anoint a new king. The trouble with that is the old king still reigns. What if he finds out what Samuel is about to do? Samuel understood that risk. And he expressed it to God.
“How can I go,” he asks God. I don’t take that to mean he was looking for further clarification. He’s not seeking logistical advice. He’s wondering why God would even ask him to do this in the first place.
When Samuel meets the new king’s family, God has to repeatedly redirect Samuel’s attention. The prophet is sure the king is the fine young man in front of him. No? Then the next one? No? How many sons do you have, Jesse?
Of course, I’m leaving out a lot of the story. I do so in order to get to the end. Jesse had eight sons. The end of the story is not when Samuel finally anoints David. That is the beginning of a new narrative that will fill the Bible.
As it relates to our patience with and trust of God, the end of the story happens next. What did Samuel do after he anointed David? The text says he, “set out and went to Ramah.”
No further instructions to David and his family? There’s no plan of attack? No pamphlet entitled “You’re the king. Now what?”
Samuel just left.
How much patience do you think he had with God? How much trust do you think he had in what God planned?
At the very least, he had enough that he didn’t force his way on God. He didn’t hurry to make things happen after he anointed David. There’s no sense he was ready to take control of God’s timing. What a way to live!