The patience of God

I design my church’s worship gatherings to begin by focusing our attention on God. Before we ask God for anything, we thank God (for everything).

Most times, we’ll use a psalm to highlight some attribute of God. After that, we’ll sing to God’s glory about that attribute. We’ll also recognize it in prayer. Plus, it’s important to remember to thank God for being God and not only for what we get out of our walk with the Lord.

Today, let’s consider the patience of God. That’s not something we always take time to reflect on. God is patient. God is patient with us.

Withing the story of scripture, we see this on display.

Think of the first time humanity tests God’s patience. The Lord knew what the woman had done. God knew how Adam followed suit. That’s who we are. God gave them a chance to own up to their shortcomings. You and I tend to be more “act first and ask questions later.” That’s not the image we see in Genesis 3 of our Creator.

Now, there were consequences for their disobedience. The couple was expelled from the garden. Even then we see God’s patience, perhaps expressed in graciousness. “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). When we lose our patience with someone we don’t feel like serving them!

But you can find many more instances where God’s patience endured. Of course, that doesn’t mean God does not execute justice or bring punishment. I don’t know how to determine where the line is for exhausting God’s patience. Is it situational? Does it depend upon who needs it?

It seems fair to suggest, though, there is a line.

Besides God demonstrating patience with each of us, there is also a strong sense that God’s patience is an important aspect of his universal will. 2 Peter 3 says to “regard the patience of our Lord as salvation.” That comes after Peter has spoken about the coming of the day of God. New heavens and new earth await us. So, our response is to “strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish.”

Why is God so patient? It seems that’s the best way to ensure more people grow in grace and knowledge of Jesus. See? God’s patience has more to do with than just you!

But God’s patience is our blessing, too. We grow in grace. Every Bible study, every sermon, every daily devotional can be a way you are doing that. That makes each one all the more meaningful. You don’t know how one might impact your walk with God, but they can. And they will.

When they do you realize God has been patiently waiting for you to learn that lesson. Thank God.

Stay blessed…john

Controlling God’s time

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.

Patience, brother.

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?

Patience, God.

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.”

That’s it?

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!

Stay blessed…john