I’m not a patient person. I hate waiting for anything, and my energy levels and mood degrade at an embarrassingly rapid rate when I have to exercise patience. It’s a massive character flaw, but as a woman of integrity, I continue to ask God for help in overcoming it.
I picture Him laughing every time I do. It’s truly absurd how awful I am at this.
And yet I know it is His good will for me to grow in this area. When I bemoan the lack of progress in my professional life, watching others promoted before and over me…when someone else gets the book deal…when I hear of someone scoring a brilliant success that I’ve been working so hard to achieve…it’s hard to be patient and trust God. And how I hate myself for being a crybaby! Talk about #firstworldproblems.
The psalmist tells me to delight myself in the Lord and He will give me the desires of my heart (Psalms 37:4). Matthew Henry’s Commentary describes it this way: “He has not promised to gratify all the appetites of the body and the humours of the fancy, but to grant all the desires of the heart, all the cravings of the renewed sanctified soul. What is the desire of the heart of a good man? It is this, to know, and love, and live to God, to please him and to be pleased in him” (Biblegateway.com). Not a word about wanting to have earthly success.
We are all walking the proverbial tightrope: one foot in (but not of!) the world, one in the transcendent life of faith and devotion to God. The trick is to bring the transcendence into our daily lives–transforming ego, emotions, and ambitions into a paean of praise to the One who created us.
Striving for excellence isn’t wrong. I’m told to “excel still more” (1 Thessalonians 4:1, 10), not to accept what is simply good. But here is where my faith is exercised: strive, but wait. Excel, but wait. Do my best…but wait.
I’ve been reading Acts lately and finding nuggets of wisdom for my patience challenge. Jesus told the disciples, “not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised” (Acts 1:4). Jesus told Paul, “Take courage; for as you have solemnly witnessed to My cause at Jerusalem, so you must witness at Rome also” (Acts 23:11). Yet Paul waited over two years before it was finally “decided that we would sail for Italy” (Acts 27:1). Waiting can be a deeply spiritual act, yet one that I so easily squander with my wriggling and fussing and gnashing of teeth.
This November I will celebrate 39 years of faith in Christ. Let me not have another birthday with this same sin, Lord. Let me be like Paul and the apostles, waiting on You, trusting that Your good and perfect will for my life will be revealed in Your perfect time. Let me continue to strive for excellence in the absence of fanfare or earthly notice. Let me be found doing the right things for the right reasons, using my God-given gifts with gratitude and joy.
Help me wait.