The Gift of Patience

Anyone who knows me, knows I’m pretty driven.

I have task lists that I love to check off each and every day. And, I often ask Krista, “How was your day?” implicitly asking, “What did you accomplish?” This is part of who I am, and how I’m wired.

But, what I’m also learning is that patience and slowness is a gift.

When I read the Bible, what I notice is how often God doesn’t seem to be speedy. God seems to be okay with taking His time. He doesn’t always seem to do things instantaneously, but rather gives things time to grow and change.

And, this idea of being patient with God – of God working faithfully over decades and generations, and of us being obsessed with speed and yet trusting in the slow work of God – is something that is becoming more and more obvious to me.

We read in Psalm 37:7: “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” We are called to wait patiently for Him.

Or, we read multiple times in Paul’s writings about how we are called to be patient. (see 1 Corinthians 13:4; Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:2)

And, I think that we, as a culture and society, have fallen in love with speed and efficiency, when what I think we are called to do is to fall in love with the slow, patient, and true work of God.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes:

“Above all, trust in the slow work of God. We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay. We would like to skip the intermediate stages. We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new. And yet, it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time. Above all, trust in the slow work of God, our loving vine-dresser.”

And, that’s what has been really working on my soul lately – seeking to trust in the slow work of God, and that He who began a good work is faithful to complete it. (see Philippians 1:6)

What’s Killing the Church

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Today, I want to talk about what’s killing the church and its witness. And no, it’s not what you’d expect – it’s not sin. It’s not a lack of discipline. It’s not weak or lukewarm Christians, or whatever else is lamented in today’s world.

I think what’s killing the church is busyness.

And, I say this as an incredibly busy person. This is snapshot of what a recent day looked like for me…

  • Meeting starting at 6 AM.
  • Back to the house to get kids and drop them off to school.
  • Meetings and sermon writing throughout the day.
  • Volunteering in Asher’s school.
  • Hockey in the evening for the boys.
  • Followed by school (I had an exam).
  • Followed by prepping for a large NGO Board that I sit on.
  • Followed by cleaning the house and talking with Krista.

And, I say this not to be like, “Look at how busy I am! I must be awesome!” I say this because I think the drive to get more stuff done each and every day is what is killing the church. Where do you and my neighbours show up? Where is whitespace for God opportunities and interruptions?

Where am I even giving God space to move in my day?

I bring this all up because I bet your life isn’t all that different. Sure, the pieces might be different. Sure, some of what you do might be different. But, I bet the first thing you’d say when I ask how your week is, “Busy.”

And, that’s what needs to change.

Because, busyness doesn’t expand God’s kingdom.

And, I’m not talking about being lazy, rather I’m talking about being available. Available to God. Available to interruptions and those around you. Available to meet and connect with others.

Doug Fields writes, “Busy is the enemy of neighbourly.”

That is so simple, and true.

As Christians, we are called to be neighbourly because we are called to change neighbourhoods.

I write this as a challenge today. Cut some things out of your schedule to make space for God’s schedule. Busy is the enemy of neighbourly, and busy is the enemy of a whole life. So, make some changes.

That’s what I am going to do today.

 

Busy, Busy, Busy

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“The spirit of our times is joyless urgency…” – Marilynne Robinson
Read that line again, and if you don’t have time, well there is the irony right there. The spirit of our times is joyless urgency.
Doesn’t that capture where we are at as a society, as a culture, as a people, even? Aren’t we rushing from one thing to the next, always busy, always hurried, unable to even enjoy all the things that rush past us?
Marilynne Robinson is known to be an astute observer of our times and she resonates with me. Sometimes that’s exactly how I feel – a joyless urgency to continue rushing forward to the next thing and the next thing after that.
But, when you live like that, chasing one thing after another, you quickly end up just feeling like a “thing.” Because to be human isn’t to rush from one thing to the next; it’s to appreciate life in all of its complexities and nuances. Being human is to have space to experience joy and grief.
So, if you are rushing from one joyless experience to the next, I have a remedy. It’s old, and it’s often admired and untried. It’s called Sabbath. 
Take one day this week to rest. To relax. To unplug. To cease the endless rushing and to live in whatever space you may be in – good or bad. Stop the joyless urgency and running, and slow down for one day. You may feel bored, you may feel purposeless or even inefficient (that’s almost a synonym for sin in our culture), but my promise is if you do it consistently, you will feel healthy.
The spirit of our age is joyless urgency, but that doesn’t need to be your spirit. Sabbath.
“If there is any truth in relevant statistics – I doubt them all – perhaps health and longevity are not the effect of diet, of fish, vegetables, and olive oil, but having a little time to oneself, with family and friends.” – Marilynne Robinson

Frantic Living

Here’s a quote that’s worth sitting and pondering. And if you don’t have time to sit and reflect on it, well maybe that tell’s you something…

Our frantic living does not produce life. Robert Farrar Capon

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