Wait on the Lord. Something that appears over, and over, and over in the Bible. Wait on Him.
Is that the same thing as patience? I say a little bit yes, but mostly no. Patience doesn’t mean to wait. The dictionary definition defines patiences this way: the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset. The Bible defines it this way: endurance, constancy, steadfastness, perseverance…
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve been told not to ever ask God for patience. “Don’t ask for patience,” they’d say in a joking tone, “because God will give it to you.”
I heard that from the time I was a little girl, and it made me terrified to ask God for things…are my requests double edged? Is there always something to fear in the gifts God gives us? Is it because God will make me wait forever to give me the desires of my heart? I wondered about His character…this loving God who gave His son for me, did He have a dark side?
This past year I’ve finally developed my own understanding of patience. We took our family to Oregon, only to feel our dreams fall out of the bottom of the boat when Jon’s illness seemingly took control of our lives. There we were, 1900 miles away from home, at a crisis point. One of those things in your life you don’t see coming, one of those places that can derail your faith and send you spinning off into a totally unknown place.
I knew in my heart without a doubt that God had taken us to Oregon. However, I felt the need to almost defend that to my friends and family, and sometimes even to myself. I had to remind myself of His goodness and the things He had done to get us there. In my mind it didn’t make sense that we were going home. It didn’t make sense that God made it clear that there was work to be done in Brookings, Oregon only to take us out of it before much was accomplished. Still, I trusted Him. I sought Him in the midst of our hurricane.
What I can see now is that He was also starting a work in our lives, and it was something that could have taken us a lifetime to learn. Instead, because of the wholehearted leap of faith we took when we let our Jesus carry our weight across deserts and mountains and to the coast and then back again, we gave Him an opportunity to do something mighty in a short amount of time.
At home we rested. The foundation that had been completed in Oregon was now being built upon. We were learning what it means to seek out the Kingdom of God, to seek out heaven on earth. Lessons I’m sure we will continue to learn all of our lives, but they all started connecting and weaving into a beautiful entanglement of God’s plan, of God’s love. Then came the healing.
Jon’s horrible affliction was gone in a moment. Scars and wounds supernaturally healed, God the Father taking them and feeling them for me, instantly healing my heart. Sweetly and intimately showing me who He is and how much He wants more of me. Why? Because my deepest and most passionate desire is to know His heart, to know Him more. To be set ablaze.
This journey has taught me what patience really is. The Lord calls me to wait on Him, He wants me to wait because I’m antsy and as a human being I’m restless. My mind continually is thinking of the things I need to do, the kids next meal, the messes that are being made, work and relationships and so much more. I flit from one thing to another and could easily be described as ADHD but I refuse to wear that label, to own that name, because I know that the Lord is calling me, calling me to wait on Him. In that waiting place, He speaks. In that waiting place, He fills.
How can I have a conversation with my very alive and powerful and full of grace God if all I do is talk to Him and then leave His presence to go about my day? How can I truly live a Spirit-filled life if I only enter His presence to do my morning devotion and then go back to living in the flesh when I’m actually living? Waiting on the Lord is conversation. Waiting on Him means I want a relationship, not religion…I’m not going through the motions to avoid feeling guilty. No. I am waiting for Him to move and trusting that He will. He never disapoints.
Patience can happen during the waiting. You can endure and persevere while waiting. But you can also endure and persevere while walking. There are so many crisis points…so many moments we don’t see coming that can throw our spiritual lives into a blender. Patience happens when you trust the Lord completely, when your faith is strong even when you feel like everything is coming apart. No matter where He’s taking you, you know you want to be with Him. Patience is getting through that crisis point and pressing in, letting Him take you deeper when it hurts. Letting Him in when your instincts tell you to close everything and everyone off and protect yourself at all costs. Patience is clinging to Him with all you have, your fingers white with the effort of holding on.
Patience is what I learned about when I went to Oregon and back. Patience is trusting God with your whole heart, soul, mind, and strength and leaping into a different kind of living. My advice from this journey is this: never, ever be afraid to ask for patience. Always desire more of Him, more of the fruits of the Spirit, more of God’s presence. Always ask for more.