"Faith is taking the first step, even when you don't see the whole staircase." ~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Passing on Patience

My life has been so very full of peace for the past few months. My job holds peace. My home holds peace. And, even at my church, I feel a sense of peace. It was not necessarily any particular situation or circumstance that changed things except for my perception and attitude in my prayers. I stopped asking God to change people, places, and things, and begin to ask Him to give me the same patience with others that He has with me. I know what you are thinking.....I can never have the patience of our Father because that would make me perfect. And, you are exactly right. I will never totally have the patience of our Father or His Son, but in asking for it, this shows that I want to strive to be more like Jesus, which is what we should be doing as we grow spiritually.

Patience is spoken about all throughout the Bible. Patience is spoken about in terms of waiting on something, patience is spoken of in terms of having patience with others, patience is spoken of in a time for suffering, patience is spoken of in terms of growth, patience is spoken of as a character that demonstrates discipline, the learning process of patience is spoken of, and even showing patience as a symbol of submission to divine wisdom. I'm sure if I kept searching the scriptures, I would find several more terms in which patience is spoken of. Patience is a multiple meaning word and can be both a noun and a verb. Patience can be spoken of as an idea which is a noun, or can be practiced as an act, which is a verb. Whatever the case, in this life on earth, patience is a MUST!

Now, those in my inner circle know and can tell you that I have never been one of great patience; far from that concept to be exact. But, in growing older, and in growing spiritually, I have learned that patience must be practiced in order to show that Christ resides within me. The patience that I speak of tonight is having patience with others.

I thought about some times in which my patience was thin with others. I ask God to help show me when I have become instantly impatient and easily irritated by others and have allowed my actions to show something other than Christ. I was really embarrassed by what God revealed to me. I had a long list of people and things that made me impatient. However, when I finished thinking about that list, I had to create a list of things that I did that may have made others impatient with me. I was surprised to see that many of the things that others do that irritate me; I do or have done to others also. So, who am I to be irritated with them? God reminds me that no being is perfect, and that most are striving to be the best person that they can be. My best is not your best, and your best is not my best. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, so we should not get irritated with others so easily. Sometimes we expect things out of others that we are unable to produce ourselves.

I thank God for my intelligent children. Being an educator, I am able to recognize the academic strengths and weaknesses that my children possess at this time. My son is such a logical thinker. He is wonderful with numbers and loves science. Those in the world of education know that these are typically the strengths of boys. I was working on reading skills with my son one night and became so very frustrated with him because it is the teacher in me, not the mother, which knows that he could be reading right now. In my mind it would be so simple for him to just read a short book because he knows some sight words and has been blending sounds for over a year. My patience begin to wear thin with him because I wanted what I wanted for him and was not reading his cues that while he possesses the skills, his interest in reading independently just isn't there yet. I thought about everything that could possibly be an issue with him, but never thought about the fact that I was not being patient with him. I wanted him to do what I wanted him to do right now! He is only four and there are many other things that he is interested in exploring. God showed me that it was me who needed to change and not my son at all. It was at this point when I begin to examine and assess my level of patience that I have with others.

Simply asking for the patience of God has also changed my attitude and outlook on life. I have more peace, less stress, and less drama. I am not consumed by what others are not doing, or have not failed to do, but what I am doing and am striving to do. This is still a growing process for me. I wish I could say that I never get frustrated at the slow moving car in front of me, or the clerk at the store that totals my purchases incorrectly, but when I do, I react differently. I try to remember that no one is perfect that that someone may have had to show patience towards me that day and I may have not even known it. I try to think about the possibility that the slowing moving car may be someone who is handicapped or elderly. I try to think that the cashier may have children to feed and have worked a twelve hour shift today.

This post is just something to think about.....how we can be more like Christ and enjoy this abundant life!

God Bless You!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Justified Excuses???

Excuses, Excuses, Excuses.....How many of us use these? My hand is raised high in the air. I may even need to raise both hands. Excuses are reasons that we provide for why we do not get something done, why we do not get somewhere, why we do not meet deadlines, or simply why we feel that the skills we possess are inadequate for the task before us. Most often, we are unable to recognize when we use an excuse because we have been conditioned to justify them.

Have you ever heard someone say, "Well, the Lord knows my heart!"? I think I have heard so many people say this famous phrase so much so that I began to say it at some point in my growth, and it just stuck. So, the result is that now when I am late somewhere, or I refuse to participate in something, my justification is, "Well, the Lord knows my heart."

The statement is not the issue, but it is the context in which I use it that is the problem. I use this statement many times to justify my excuse for not doing what I don't want to do. I use this statement to make me feel better about blowing off responsibilities that I don't want to have, or chose not to have. Excuses are nothing new. Moses gave God excuses because he felt ill-equipped to speak to God's people. (Exodus 3:11, 4:10)

In Luke chapter 9, two men approached Jesus and said they wanted to follow Him where ever He went. When Jesus instructed them to come right then, they had excuses, which proved to Jesus that the men were not serious about following Him after all. They wanted to follow Jesus on their terms. They wanted to follow Him when they wanted and how they wanted. But, the thing is, our lives are not our own. Each life, whether saved or not, belongs to the Heavenly Father. How is it that He allows us to deny Him what to do with His life that He gave us? Our God is awesome. He does not want to force Himself upon us, and He will not force Himself upon us. He wants us to do for Him simply because we love Him! And, not to mention all of the things that He has done for us!

I thought about it this way; what if it was time for me to wake up one morning, and God didn't wake me up. And, what if I asked God, "Lord, why didn't you wake me up today?" And, His reply was, "Oh...I forgot about you...I got so caught up on doing something else. Sorry. I guess I'll remember to wake you up tomorrow." However, that would be too late. I know it seems farfetched to think of God this way, but when I turn around some of the things that I do and think about what if God did the very same things; it allows me to see how serious my wrongs are. It also keeps in my mind that I can't do anything without my fully functioning, no-excuse God. God never gives me an excuse, but sadly, I find that I give Him more than a plenty!

I know that my commitment to Christ must be a total commitment. Christ does not desire any partial believers for followers. When one is totally committed, there is no room for excuses. No excuses mean that we will sacrifice at times. One day, we want to be rewarded with our crown, but that will not come without our own individual crosses. Talk about a sacrifice!

So, "does the Lord know my heart" all the while? Yes, He knows when I am making excuses and when I am being obedient to His word and direction. He knows when I was really held back or distracted and when I needed to be. He knows how to keep me in His will. And, He will never justify any excuse that I have. If it was in His will that I was not at a certain place at a certain time, or I was not prepared for something, or I didn't get something done by a deadline date, then it simply was not supposed to be. Then it is not an excuse, but God's plan.

God bless you tonight, as we travel on this journey to becoming all that God has for us to be!