Jesus, on the other hand, was far from impatient. He’d waited 4,000 years after promising to come live with us. Then, while He was here, He’d said He’d come back for us very soon, and so far to date, it’s been another 2,000 years and counting. And in addition, when Jesus lived on earth He never seemed to get antsy or restless at all. You don’t read any stories where Jesus was in a big rush. Even the day He gave Himself over to be crucified and everything went painfully, agonizingly slow, Jesus remained fluid, centered, and present enough to bless, forgive, and even lead someone to eternal life. Jesus was patient.
How nice. Not only was Jesus more patient than anybody I’d ever known, He also expected me to be just that patient with myself. If I was to experience Him in His fullness, then I was going to have to give in and be at peace with things as they were. No more getting intense because I’d bombed. No more self-imposed deadlines for heart work. I was to practice embracing myself right where I was, flaming inadequacies included.
A Matter of Time
You never quite get just how much ongoing misery you can create for yourself until you give into being patient. Suddenly everything that was once a menace becomes adventurous and just all right; flat tires included. I remember reading how Jesus was painstakingly explaining to Moses what Aaron was going to wear and do as the first priest of the newly formed Jewish nation. Meanwhile, Aaron was down in the valley making a golden calf for everybody to worship. It was overwhelming. Could God really be that unruffled and patient about things?
The answer was yes, yes, and yes. And if Jesus didn’t miss a beat, then I don’t need to either. Dwight Moody, that great old American revivalist, taught me the language of patience. I read once how he was speaking with a man who had no use for a personal God. The man was a leading figure in his town and quite put together on the outside. After hearing the man’s arrogant statement of unbelief, Moody said something along the lines of contact me when you believe because it’s just a matter of time.
This is definitely a trump card. It’s just a matter of time. I learned I could say it while stuck in a scorching circumstance, while stuck in conversation with a cynic, or even while stuck in line at the grocery store; it didn’t matter, the effect was the same. I also learned that my uptight stranglehold of things was a raging mistrust of Jesus and His goodness. If Jesus could manage what was to come, He also could no doubt manage the when of it.
As far-fetched as it may sound, practicing patience pretty much extinguished all opportunities for me to wig out. After all, I couldn’t fret about how things were and should be, not with patience bestowed all over. And when I did get a little freaked? I hunted down the hidden agenda and let it go. I was not a machine, after all. Function was only part of who I was, and hardly the main part. Learning to relax in all things became my lullaby. I could sleep anywhere.
There was one problem though. As soon as I began to relax, it seemed I was suddenly surrounded by the most impatient people in the world. You probably know the feeling. Suddenly there is this new perspective that fills your universe and nobody else has a clue. Here I had found all this peace, but most of my friends didn’t seem okay with me being at peace and patient at all, not with the mess still strewn everywhere.
I think there is this very subtle belief that we Christians carry around concerning peace. I think we actually are afraid of people who have a lot of peace because we think we cannot grow and change without being riled up and pressed. It’s almost as if we fear that if there’s no big negative feeling to urge us on, we’ll just abandon Jesus and the journey to wholeness.
In contrast to this is Jesus. Despite the fact that there are six or so billion of us and He’s holding out for us all, Jesus doesn’t wring his hands or push hard. Jesus says when we trade places with Him that we’ll find His way of going about things easy and light. I think patience is part of the easy and light. Despite all that is necessary for my healing, not to mention the sobering extent of my confusion at times, Jesus takes me under his wing and still continues to be all warm and restful, all easy and light.
Clarissa Worley Sproul writes from the Pacific Northwest.
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