I consider myself pretty patient. But it took years to gain that skill...
Charlie Ridenour, pastor at Crossroads Bible Church, wrote an article about Patience in the Cross Timbers Gazette this March. It was Charlie's sermon that made my last Christmas so memorable - read a past blog for that story.
I planned on providing the link on my Facebook page but ...alas, I could not find it. I have before me the actual paper copy. I thought I would re-type it it for you to read. Unfortunately, you'll have to hear my comments along the way.
"I'm not a patient person, and I especially don't like waiting. I'm the kind of guy who will drive 15 minutes out of the way to avoid 5 minutes of traffic. Hey, at least I'm moving somewhere."
I can confirm that. His dad is the same way.
"Not surprisingly, almost all advertisements annoy me. It's a version of hitting traffic while trying to consume media. I'm the kind of television watcher who constantly changes the channel to avoid a 15 second commercial.
When we think of patience, we think of traffic and commercials and often forget the conversation extends to the people around us. The problem is relational patience is the most challenging, bu the most needed today."
Can I hear a giant amen?
"Each week, as I look out at my church I see a church comprised of differences."
He said...my church...he's a pastor now. Leading a church. Going on mission trips. Incredible. I still remember him driving my daughter to school as a teenager.
"Differences are difficult because they require us to be patient with one another. It's why Paul spends a good bit of time in his writings discussing unity and body life (Romans 12 and 14, I Corinthians 12, Philippians 2) It's natural to try to make everyone think, act, walk and talk like me, and in doing so create a world where I don't need to be patient.
The problem is, if we all believe, think or even act the same, we lose the beauty differences bring into our world. Differences don't have to threaten truth. Truth exists as we see it in the scriptures and is worth pursuing, but that's another conversation. My fear is that in an increasingly impatient society, we forget that our differences are an expression of an immensely creative God who uses diversity to reveal his majesty.
If I'm completely honest, my idea of relational patients mostly centers around my perspective. It's the time it takes for others to see my point of view or the time it takes them to move from my perspective to mine. I'm patient if others move toward me.
The problem is, that's not real patience."
Exactly what I was just thinking.
"It's the difference between allowing difference and actually celebrating it. If I believe difference reveals the majesty of God, I want to do more than simply allow it in my life: I want to celebrate when it's encountered."
That is a hard concept to wrap your head around. He's saying to be happy when someone has an opposing point of view. Which sounds suspiciously like...love your enemy.
"I'm beginning to realize practicing patience is an expression of celebrating differences. I still hate traffic (and most commercials) but am trying to learn the simple joy of practicing patience with the people around me - it helps me see more of God in the world."
That's what I want...to see more of God in the world, even in those that don't share my views. And I wouldn't mind seeing less traffic too...
Charlie Ridenour preaches at Crossroads Bible Church in Double Oak, Texas.