Welcome again to this week's word for the week. Let's get straight to the point this week. God spoke to me about talking about patience this week so it's important that I do just that. What is patience in its most basic definition? Patience is simply the ability to wait. That's what patience comes down to at the end of the day. Your ability to wait.
Now let's go further with another point of honesty. We are not always "willing" to do what we are "able" to do. You have many different abilities but you're not always willing to exercise those abilities. You are able to wake up 2 hours every morning before it's time for you to even get ready for work but you may not be willing to do so. You are able to forgive others but you may not always be willing to do so. You clearly know what you need to do but you may not always want to do those things.
Many year ago I was taught to never ask God for patience. Being a novice Christian, the look on my face clearly said I was confused by that statement that was just made to me. The person began to explain to me that patience is the ability to wait and when you're saved it means waiting on God. They asked me a simple and yet powerful question that made everything clear. They asked me how many things did I pray about, was still waiting for, and had grown weary or frustrated because I had to wait?
I don't need to tell you I had a long list of things I was waiting for. They then told me if I was struggling with being patient in those things how could I handle the things that I asked for and just didn't realize I asked for. Someone may be confused so let me make this clear. You're waiting right now for things you didn't ask to wait for. How would you handle asking God for patience but not realizing that you're really asking Him to teach you how to wait? Most people if they're honest will quickly realize how much of a struggle that could be.
So this leaves us with a pressing question that needs an answer. Should we ask God for patience? Rather than outright answer that question let me give you a few things to think about. What do you think the purpose of all of your trials is? Do you think they are only to bless you or do you think that God is teaching you how to wait on Him? Here's another question. What do you think God is teaching along the way as you wait?
Now really give those questions some thought and then ask yourself this question. Is there really anything else needed in your life for you to get the picture? In other words, does God really need to do anything else to make it clear that He is doing something while you wait? When you order your food in a Red Lobster they go back to place your order in the kitchen. Why would you ask to place an order when one is already on the way? In other words, what you need to learn is already on the way. Why are you asking for it again?
Now does that mean you don't ask God for patience? That's not even close to what I'm saying this week. I'm telling you that learning how to wait is already factored into your situation. In other words, everything you ask for is not going to happen right now. Some things you need to wait for because it will teach you some things about yourself and about God. Can you handle that?
I want you to think back over your life for a moment as we get ready to close. How many things have you learned as a result of having to wait? What did you learn about God during those times? I don't know if credit cards existed when I was really young or not. What I do know is that I watched my mother put a lot of things on layaway. The item was picked out but it was not taken home at that moment. Instead, it was moved and put up until it was paid off. She knew it was coming but she also knew that it would take some time to get it from the store to home.
Back then the stores all had signs that said layaway. Even as a child I clearly understood that there would be a waiting period. The thing I really remember is that the excitement of knowing what was on the way was just as great as if it was already there. We would leave stores just as excited about a layaway as someone who purchased outright and was leaving with their items. Why? Because we understood the meaning of patience.
My point to you is that patience does not mean denial. It means to wait for a period of time. God has not forgot about you. You just need to wait on Him. You need to understand that while you wait He is not going to let anything harm you. Instead, He's going to teach you some things you may not get any other way. I was ready to come home from war the first day I got there. However, I learned some lessons that will last the rest of my life as a result of having to wait until it was over.
You are not worse off because you have to wait. You are in the process of being made better. I can't tell you how many times I wanted something that I could not get at the moment only to have it go on sale at just the right time for me later. Get out of the mindset that God has forgotten about you or doesn't care about you. Who do you think is keeping you while you wait? Who do you think is protecting you and sparing your life to see day after day while you wait? Patience is not your enemy. It's one of your friends. If you ever learn how to run this race with patience you will win in the end everytime!
May the Lord continue to bless and keep you in His grace,
Bishop Carlos J. Lennon