I know I am not alone in my affection for quick resolutions. Not many of us appreciate a journey that leads to an unknown destination. Waiting for the end of a story to unfold is uncomfortable because we are painfully aware that despite our deepest longings and most determined efforts, we are not able to control the outcome. But whether we like it or not, waiting is a part of life. And it is most definitely a part of maturing as a Christian.
I was in Chicago recently for a conference that was, for the most part, a positive experience. But the instruction I received has left me with a relentless question about the way I deliver my spoken message. If I accept the direction given to me, it would mean a huge shift in how I both prepare and present. If I ignore the advice in my desire to free myself from the tension of uncertainty, I know I will miss something that God has for me to learn.
I’ve done a lot of thinking, praying, and talking about the issue. I have sought advice from close friends and also acquaintances in ministry who are further along in their content development. The opinions are as varied as their personalities. It appears there are no quick answers to this pressing question of mine.
So I wait. And while I wait, I hear God’s gentle whisper like rain on my soul. He reminds me that this is a process. He encourages me through His Word. God opened doors for me to go to Chicago, attend this conference, and receive this counsel. God is serious about bringing growth into my life. But it’s going to take some time for me to understand what it all means and how best to receive it.
While I seek clarity around this, I have choices. I can find reasons to discredit the advice or justify my own decisions. I can rally troops to support me so that I am comfortable and satisfied with my current strategy. I could even decide that I am ineffective and stop trying to strengthen the skills with which God has blessed me. Or I can be patient, let Him work, and learn what He wants to teach me through this experience.
The Spiritual fruit of patience is more than waiting. It is evidence of being able to wait well. It is about waiting forwardly in the expectation that God is at work and will reveal His message to us in the timeframe He knows is best for us. In the meantime, He invites us to remember His faithfulness in previous situations and resolutely decide to trust Him in this one. Patience is offering praise and thanksgiving for things that are. It is also praising Him for things that will be – even though they are unseen to us right now.
As He grows us in His image, some things will come into our lives, and other things will be taken out. From time to time, we will find that shaping of our hearts and lives awkward or even painful. What will we do? Will we race to find answers that stop the unpleasantness though they may be less than His plan for us? Or will we exercise the Spiritual fruit of patience that demonstrates our choice to be satisfied in Him alone?