Patience
Posted on January 25, 2015

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.” So begins one of the most famous passages from all of Scripture, found in the third chapter of Ecclesiastes.

As part of my morning devotional today, I listened to the teachings of a pastor from California who does brief and usually very interesting YouTube daily biblical meditations. This morning he spoke of how Jesus instructed his disciples that the Good News he came to share was for the House of Israel but also for the Gentile world. Remember his words: "Other sheep I have, not of this fold." And yet, the real movement of Christianity into the Gentile community did not begin for at least another decade, if not more. We read the stories in the book of Acts about Peter and Paul reaching out to those who were not Jewish, especially those in the Greek community. So why did it take so long for an initiative Jesus had encouraged to actually take place? The minister leading the devotional said: "Different plants are harvested when the time is right for their particular harvest."

His words made me think of so many times when I have imagined something that I desired to see in my church, in my family, or in my personal life. What I imagined seemed to me to be right and consistent with that which I assumed God wanted. And yet, there were roadblocks. Other people did not share my dream. There were obstacles that stood in the way, some logistical, some interpersonal. I used to worry about why good and worthy things did not happen when I thought they should. Why would some church that I served along the way not realize the importance of a program or project that I suggested? Why would a friend or family member not recognize the urgency of my suggestion for their life? Perhaps that minister from California was correct – different plants are harvested when the time is right for their particular harvest. The simple fact that something does not occur when I want it to doesn’t mean that it will not at some point occur. The simple fact that everyone is not on my schedule does not mean that they are not on board with important or lofty priorities. Perhaps some people understand better than I that you don't plant a seed one day and harvest a crop next. Instead there is usually a lot of work to be done in the field that exists between a dream and a result.

I guess what I heard from that minister this morning was what the Bible teaches so clearly: "Did not grow weary in well doing” because “there is a time for every purpose under heaven.” Therefore, do not grow impatient when the whole world is not on your schedule... or when some people think that no matter how important your idea or priority may be, something else is more urgent or more pressing at this moment. Something else demands our attention and our energies, and though one’s ideas may be valid, it simply may not yet be time for that harvest.

Do you remember an old tongue-in-cheek adage that used to show up on needlepoint plaques hanging on people's walls? It said, "God grant me patience, and I want it now!" That said a lot about human nature, but did not understand a lot about Divine timing. Sometimes worthy ends are worth the journey and the work required to attain them. We plant the seeds, we tend the fields, and we wait for the right time to come for that particular harvest.

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