Cultivating Patience

I sat staring at the clock on the doctor’s office wall. The minute hand moved with a reliable tick, as its smaller brother drudged in slow circles around the clockface. With every tick, pressure built. My feet, acting as a relief valve, patted the floor. What was taking so long? My stomach growled, reminding me my breakfast was a distant memory. Shifting in my seat, I harrumphed and looked to my wife in dissatisfaction.

It wasn’t her fault the appointment was running late, but I wanted validation for my feelings. Her patience—although much thicker than mine—was wearing thin, too. The doctor was running over two hours behind schedule with no explanation. Why haven’t they let us know something?

Even though I’ve heard good things come to those who wait, I don’t find much comfort in the thought during the heat of the moment.

I’m not good at waiting. Even though I’ve heard good things come to those who wait, I don’t find much comfort in the thought during the heat of the moment. Patience is a struggle for me. And I think if most people were honest, they too, have patience issues.

However, God is working on me. Often, when I feel my face flush and feet pace, I sense the Holy Spirit prompting me to yield to Him. Kevin, use this as an opportunity to grow in grace and godliness. I’ve learned patience is not a virtue I can muster in my strength. It is a fruit God’s Spirit cultivates in us (see Gal 5:22). When the temptation to grow impatient presents itself, instead of sighing, I try to take a clearing breath and ask the Holy Spirit for help. I’m a work in progress, but I’m still growing.

I’ve learned patience is not a virtue I can muster in my strength.

I wish I could say my extended stay at the doctor’s office increased my godliness, but I’m not sure it had its full effect. Why? Because I failed to remind myself that God uses things like this to grow us in our patience. How much peace did I give up by allowing tension in? What good did the tension do? These are the questions that I face as I examine the events of the day. However, I ask another question too. How can I learn from this mistake to grow in grace and godliness for tomorrow?

Have you ever struggled with patience? Looking back, how could you have invited God in the struggle? I’d like to hear about it in the comment section. And please remember, there is no judgment here. God is still cultivating the fruit of patience in all of us.

For God’s sake (and Yours) Stop!

As the sun sinks below the pines, I sit under the wash of my back porch’s ceiling fan. Every billow brings with it a sense of satisfaction. It’s Sunday evening and a scratched-through to-do-list reminds me of the day’s accomplishments. Sunday School. Morning Worship. Counseling. Meetings. All done. A few things left undone, but I’ve shifted them to Tuesday’s list. But for now, I rest in the fact my sabbath has come.

A few months ago, I decided Monday would be my sabbath. I placed it at the beginning of the week, because of my tendency to overwork. Any later, and tasks would spill over and keep me from resting. Since then, I’ve noticed I’m happier and healthier.

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy”

Exodus 20:8

God tells us, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exo 20:8). They have waged debates on the actual day of sabbath. Is it Saturday or Sunday? I’m not here to settle any argument. However, I am advocating for a six to one ratio for work and rest. You were not made to work all the time. You need rest.

For years, I worked seven days a week and I justified it by telling myself I was doing the Lord’s work. However, even the Lord backed away from his labor to set the example for us to follow.  We need a weekly rhythm of rest, so we can reset our physical and spiritual batteries. If not, we will grow weary, and not enjoy life.

We need a weekly rhythm of rest, so we can reset our physical and spiritual batteries.

Are you irritable? One evening during a busy season, I was whining to my wife, “I’m tired of people. I’m tired of church. I’m tired of meetings. I’m tired…” It hit me that in all the statements, my mouth was revealing what my heart already knew. I was tired. In that moment, I realized I was experiencing burnout. I knew I needed rest, but I didn’t know how to get it. By overcommitting, my schedule had bloated to an unimaginable load. It was time for drastic measures. I had to stop.

Stopping is easier said than done. How do you stop when other people expect you to always go? It takes determination, tough conversations, and ruthless evaluations of time and commitments, but it can be done. You can stop. It’s time to stop. Stop and you can live a better life. Trust me. No, better yet, trust God. Isn’t that the real reason you keep pressing? It will all fall apart if you stop, right? No, it won’t. You and I are not that important. The truth is when we refuse to rest, it’s because we don’t trust God.

You can stop. It’s time to stop. Stop and you can live a better life.

Anne Lamott commented on this important truth. She wrote, “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” Unplugging from your work will revolutionize your life. It did mine. Of course, there are hectic days still filled with activity, but by taking time to reset gives me the strength to accomplish God’s will for any day.

You can stop. It’s time to stop. Stop and you can live a better life.