But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Galatians 5:22-23

Ah, patience. That seemingly elusive fruit that we casually bestow the title of virtue upon as if we can will it into our character, into our day, into our lives {or the lives of others} by our own effort. Perhaps, for many of us, that is wherein the greatest frustration lies. Because here’s the deal, folks. Patience isn’t something that we are capable of manifesting on our own. No, really, it’s not.

In fact, if you’ve ever prayed for more patience {which I may have done a time or two}, you know that God doesn’t simply drop off a measure of it on our doorstep like an overnight delivery. Instead, he tends to provide us with the opportunity to practice patience, the opportunity to bear fruit through yet another circumstance that tries our patience. And I don’t know about you, but that pretty much translates into microscopic, invisibly incremental, barely noticeable growth.

Maybe there’s a reason that patience comes fourth in the list of fruits. Maybe we need love, joy and peace at work inside of us before we can face the pruning and the nudging it takes the Spirit to grow patience in us. Maybe we need to immerse ourselves in the love, joy and peace of God before we can withstand the refining fire that brings patience.

Because patience is really so much more than we think when we hear the word.

Too often when we hear the word patience, we think of small moments in our day – having to stand in line at the grocery store or our favorite coffee shop; having to stay calm in the face of a wailing tantruming child; having to hold your tongue in response to an obvious ignorant comment about something that matters to you; having to deal with office gossip or a difficult co-worker. But really, patience is bigger than that.

Because actually the term for patience in the Bible is long-suffering. What kind of  image does that bring to your mind?

For me? It easily translates into the idea of enduring something that is bigger than me, something that may bring pain or hardship or uncertainty and enduring it without complaint or provocation. Go back and read that again. Does that sound like something we are capable of willing into our lives? It doesn’t to me.

Long-suffering implies something that stretches over days, weeks, maybe even months or years. And while some of my four- and six-year-olds’ BIG feeling tantrums can feel like they last for days or weeks, that’s really a smaller scale of patience than this idea of long-suffering. Perhaps the everyday moments are the training ground for the bigger moments of long-suffering.

this may require patience, but certainly not long-suffering
this may require patience, but it doesn’t require long-suffering

Because I believe that when God talks about patience, that translates as much into the idea of waiting as anything else. And sometimes it means waiting for a lot longer than we want or with which we are comfortable for something we desire, like our dreams to change the world.

Do I think we are meant to step out in faith to live the dream God has given us? Absolutely.

But I think there are times when we get ahead of ourselves. And ahead of God. And when we get ahead of God, we can actually set ourselves back more than a few steps. Why do I say this? Because of Moses’ story.

Remember how his mother floated him down the Nile when Hebrew baby boys were being killed by the Egyptians?

Remember how he was taken in by Pharoah’s daughter?

Remember the day he went out and saw an Egyptian bullying a Hebrew slave and he killed the Egyptian? I’m guessing that he thought he was doing something good, that he was helping his people, helping God’s people. But he was working alone instead of with God in this moment, and it didn’t turn out very well, did it?

Remember the next day when he saw two Hebrews arguing and attempted to intervene but instead was chased off by his guilt when confronted by one of the Hebrews about killing the Egyptian?

Remember how he hid far away from Egypt for 40 years herding sheep?

Remember how God came to him in the form of a burning bush to send him back to Egypt to be God’s appointed deliverer?

Remember how he brought God’s people out of Egypt?

Remember that he was 80 when he did that?

Imagine it for a moment. Moses spent 40 years in hiding. Hiding from his past. Hiding from his God. Hiding from his legacy. Hiding from his destiny. Hiding from the life that God intended for him to live to the fullest.

I don’t know about you, but that isn’t how I want to live. Not when we know that the years we have here are limited.

Do I find it encouraging that God used Moses when he was 80? Absolutely. But I don’t want to wait that long to fulfill the God-given, God-sized dream that God has given me to live.

Obviously, God uses all things together for good and he will do that in our lives just like he did in Moses’ life. But, again, I don’t want to wait that long. So, maybe, if I don’t want to wait that long, it might be worth waiting on God until he says, Okay, go now. This is your time. And I am with you.

That might mean that you get up at 4 a.m. and work on your dream before you go to work at your j-o-b because it’s not yet time for you to quit your j-o-b.

That might mean that you stay up late and hustle after your kids go to bed and you’ve cleaned up the kitchen from dinner.

hustling on writing & blogging late in the night
hustling on writing & blogging late in the night

That might mean that you start small and grow bigger over a few years instead of a few months because you have bills and a family.

That might mean that you write in 15-minute bursts because right now you still have other obligations.

Sometimes, waiting can seem like too great a burden to bear, especially when we are fired up and ready to change the world right now. But it’s a much smaller burden than the weight of regret we sometimes experience when we race out ahead of God. Because while you are being faithful with these smaller steps, God is preparing the bigger things that he intends for you to do. And, more than likely, that includes him preparing those who will receive what you will offer the world.

And I don’t about you, but I’d rather be faithful with little so that I can be faithful with more in God’s timing than charge ahead and end up with a gap of years in which my legacy and my destiny and my dream wait in the wings for me to catch up to them.


2 thoughts on “The Weight of the Wait

  1. “That might mean that you write in 15-minute bursts because right now you still have other obligations.” I hear you talking. Did that today. “Instead, he tends to provide us with the opportunity to practice patience, the opportunity to bear fruit through yet another circumstance that tries our patience.” I have never thought about it that way before. Be careful what you ask for!

    1. You and I spent that time talking about trying to find time to write, and I realized I needed to heed my own advice. And so, it is not a part of my writing here – as a reminder to myself to take whatever time I can as I seek more.

      And, yes, be careful what you ask for. I cannot tell you how often I have asked God to help me with having more patience and suddenly – a new opportunity to work out that weakness!

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