I had written on July 30, 05 about my conviction that the order of the attributes described as “fruit of the spirit” in Galations 5:22 represents God’s perfect will, though we, living in a fallen world, seldom experience them in such perfect order. At the time I was preparing to speak about the eternal things- love, joy, and peace. I feel all three of those things in my life. God has been working over the last 14 years to bring me to a proper understanding of them.
Now, this past weekend I had an encounter with Christ that led me to realize that He is working on the patience part of the fruit with me. I have a tendency to be impatient with many situations and people. I think it is, in part, a function of my own drive and ambition. So often the needs and desires of others slow down my own goal-directed pace. I can be quite heedless of their needs or desires in my haste to satisfy my own objectives. God has shown me how inappropriate that is.
Some people in my life have observed about me that I have only two speeds- full speed and stop. There’s no moderation in anything. If I’m interested, I’m passionate. If I’m uninterested, it doesn’t exist.
Even my passion for discipling and for the church fulfilling its mission in the world is driven by haste. I believe God has spoken to me about this in a contemplative moment this past weekend. In revealing to me the condition of my heart in my impatience about a little thing involving my car, He enlightened my spirit. Then, in less than 24 hours, He convicted me that even my impatience with the church and the slowness of people in making meaningful commitments to Him reflects a lack of trust in Him and His timing.
So many years of living at warp speed isn’t easy to reverse. But I must make a more conscious effort to do so. I see plenty of evidence in the world of God’s work in the hearts and behaviors of people. Unfortunately, I also see much that suggests that people have rejected God, too. I guess I feel some holy(?) compulsion to paddle furiously with all my might to overcome the resistance and increase the momentum in the direction of the fulfillment of the kingdom of God on earth.
Rev. Adrian Rogers had preached once about the ways in which satan attempts to overwhelm us. He said that it may be by obsession, by oppression, or by possession. As I think about that obsession part, I have to ask myself is my sense of there being too little time to accomplish all that is needed really a holy compulsion, or is satan at work trying to thwart my trust in God?
As long as I am diligent, persevering, and patiently keeping focused on the tasks God has given to me, why should I feel pressured to do more or guilty that I can’t get more accomplished? Surely God knows how many hours are in the day, how much sleep I require, how desperately I need exercise and recreation. It is not God that is pushing me, but I myself at times push to unhealthy degrees. Maybe satan is trying to burn me out or wear me down, since he can’t turn me aside. I think I have to seriously consider that possibility.
In the meantime, I will begin a much more intentional effort to avoid impatience, in whatever context it presents itself. Slow me down, Lord………teach me to wait on you.