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Friday, September 4, 2015

Patience to Purpose

Over the last several days, I shared some personal experiences about patience. I didn't share them to evoke sympathy or even to take you anyplace negative in your own experience. I shared them to let you know that I know we live in a "real world." Sometimes, I think, we want life in this life to be the perfect picture that God had in mind when He created the Garden of Eden and placed the first people in it. I know I like that picture. That's why I regularly use the phrase, "A Garden Walk."

Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. (Genesis 2:25 NIV)

As I teach these Biblical truths, though, I also recognize that even the Garden was affected by sin. The serpent tempted Adam and Eve. They chose to eat the forbidden fruit. They were kicked out of the Garden. Now, we live in a world that is groaning to be restored when Jesus returns. That is the world we live in today. Patience, then, is an important fruit of God's Spirit as we wait for the day that Jesus returns. And, as we said yesterday, it is good to have patience because it means salvation for someone. We are waiting because God is waiting for someone else to come home to Him.

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:8-9 NIV)

Patience for me, however, has changed over the years. As I've learned more about this picture, I've also learned much more about my part of the picture. I've learned that I am called to come home to the Father through the Son. I've learned that when I do, I also receive the Holy Spirit. I've learned that with the Holy Spirit, God gives me a gift or gifts that are specifically designed to be used in His plan. I've learned that God wants me to use my gift(s) to glorify God and to built up His Body: The Church. I've also learned that when I do, I will be a part of His Team who is being sent out to empower one more to walk together with God.

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:16 NIV)

What I've learned, then, is that I do not feel the need for patience nearly as much as I used to. The same kinds of circumstances today do not get in the way of what I want. Instead, I see them differently. When I wake up, I no longer feel like I need to patiently wait for God's return. Instead, I look forward to participating in God's plan. I eagerly look forward to the day, wondering what God is going to do next and what I get to do as a part of that plan. Patience, for me, has shifted to a sense of purpose. As long as God gave me today, He has something for me to do.
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:1-2 NIV)

How about you? Are you waiting for God to return? Are you being patient as you wait? Has your patience changed to a sense of purpose? Are you looking forward to God working through you today?