It was a cool and sunny afternoon as I sat on the deck talking on the phone with a friend. We were talking about the difficulties of life. We talked through the trials of relationships and how trust needs to be earned. And at times, trust needs to be relearned. And re-earned. We lamented that men and women don’t really understand each other. We agreed that we both live a really good life, imperfect as it may be.
Oh. He is innocent of any indiscretions, and she knows it. But he acted guilty. And she is struggling with letting it go.
What is it you want? I asked.
By dwelling on the past, she can’t look to the future. By holding on to disappointments, she can’t move on to happiness. By living in fear, she can’t trust.
As I sat on the deck talking to her, I looked up at the trees. I noticed that the green leaves were slowly beginning to turn red and gold. This year, the leaves are turning to fall colors later rather than sooner. The weather’s been warm, so the loss of chlorophyll hasn’t been very orderly this year.
I’m eager to see the trees in all the splendor of fall hues. It’s mid-October, and I’m beginning to feel impatient. I’m ready for cool, crisp weather, and it’s finally beginning to appear. It’s beginning to feel like fall. Now when will the look match the feel?
I know. I’m being impatient. But I enjoy the beauty and crispness of fall. Now is the time for it.
What is it that I want?
The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. 2 Peter 3:9
She is a great watchdog. She hears every noise. She can see through the dark with laser accuracy. She smells every deer that she can’t see and can’t smell the deer that she does see. She takes her treats outside and leaves them in the grass or on the driveway. She makes sure those treats are safe each time she goes outside. She whines when she sees her favorite neighbor dogs walking by the house. But when she sees her arch enemies, she acts like a maniac. She guards me like I’m a national treasure, and takes up too much space on the bed. She has developed anxious tendencies. She’s rather needy. She requires a lot of attention. Yet all her needs are met in abundance.
What more could she want?
Our neighborhood has recently acquired a black cat. It roams around searching for anything it can devour. It seems to be attracted to my property. I’ve seen it round the back corner of the house, which turns on the motion sensor light. I’ve noticed the cat sitting on the step in the path out back. And today, I watched it eating the treat that my dog had left on the driveway. The cat sat there and ate the entire treat. It made sure to lick up all the crumbs. Then it jumped on the stone wall and groomed itself. It seemed very content until the dog saw it and went berserk.
The thing is. My dog is the one causing the cat to be a regular visitor. If the dog wouldn’t leave food outside, the cat would have to look elsewhere for its next meal. But the dog doesn’t know she’s the problem. She’s only doing what seems natural to her. But her natural tendencies are causing problems that she isn’t aware of.
Life is full of ups and downs. We want it to be perfect. We want our way. We want our relationships to be perfect. We don’t like to be disappointed. We don’t like to wait. We don’t understand others. We are upset when others don’t understand our needs and wants. We expect others to read our minds when we can’t read theirs.
What I’m trying to say is that patience comes after many hardships and trials. After living through unmet expectations and accepting losses. Patience grows by persevering through failures and weaknesses. We all could do better.
Our moments of impatience are teaching moments. We want what we don’t have. Or we have what we don’t want. And all the while, our heavenly Father is calling us to be more like him. To view others we interact with as someone made in his image. As someone just as impatient and needy as we are. As someone who needs God’s forgiveness and mercy just as we do.
I think of our heavenly Father who patiently waits for us to come to him. We never need to doubt his love for us. We may not understand his plans or intentions. But his plans are perfect. He may be slow according to our plans. He never reneges on his promises. He will fulfill all of them in his own time. We may be confused about his methods. But his work is original and his timing is perfect. We have to trust him. Even when we don’t feel like it.
We become impatient with God when he doesn’t answer our prayers they way we want or in our timeframe. God is working even when we don’t see any results. God sees the big picture, and he knows who is ready to meet him face to face. He knows everyone who hasn’t made a decision to live for him. So he’s being patient. He’s waiting so more people will have time to make the decision to turn their lives over to him. In the meantime, we stew and pout because life seems unfair to us.
Perhaps it’s time for us to realize that this life is a temporary stopping point. This life is preparing us for eternity. This life is a test. Seventy or eighty years may seem like an eternity, but it’s nothing compared to an endless eternity. And we have a choice today to spend that eternity with God or with Satan. Let’s choose God now while we still have time. He’s patiently waiting. But he won’t wait forever.