Monday, February 6, 2012

PATIENCE

Over the past few weeks, I have been talking about the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22-23, Paul talks about what should be the by-product of our faith. Today, it will be patience. I would like to share these verses from a translation by Eugene Peterson entitled, The Message:









"But what happens when we live God's way?
He brings gifts into our lives,
much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard --
things like affection for others, 
exuberance about life,
serenity.
We develop a willingness to stick with things,
a sense of compassion in the heart,
and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.
We find ourselves in loyal commitments,
not needing to force our way in life,
able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."


As the title suggests, today we are talking about Patience. Peterson translates the word as "We develop a willingness to stick with things." I would add to that, "We develop the ability not to give up."

Of all the topics I have written, this may be one of the most difficult. Here in the U.S. we are almost hard-wired for instant gratification. We are bombarded on our computers and phones with instant text messages, emails and calls. When we watch TV, we see difficult situations resolved in 30-60 minutes. There are more and more people who do not have the time or patience to read a book. What we want - WE WANT IT NOW! As an old man I remember writing letters and waiting the days for it to be delivered and the days for an answer. This would drive most people insane today. Our kids grew up on MTV which was a barrage of 3-4 minute videos. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. We get our news in sound bites and just want people to give us "the bottom line". If you don't value your life, drive the actual speed limit in the fast lane. Road rage has taken on almost epidemic proportions - "GET OUT OF MY WAY, I AM HEADING TO STARBUCK'S!"


I watched the Super Bowl yesterday, admittedly I was ambivalent regarding the game, Both teams are 3,000 miles away. I did record it and then replayed it, stopping for the commercials, which are amazing. There was a commercial that aired during half-time. It was by Chrysler and featured Clint Eastwood. As it turns out, it was one of the more controversial commercials aired. Politicians and Talk-Show Hosts are politicizing it. Yes, I know Chrysler received bail-out money from the government. I have heard the arguments both pro and con. I was more interested in the content of what Clint Eastwood said than about all of the political hullabaloo. What he said was powerful and it speaks directly to this discussion. We are facing difficult times. We have faced difficult times before, yet we have always found a way out. To a country that demands instant gratification, it is time to learn patience. Here is the spot: 



As I write this short blog, it can't be too long or people won't have the patience to finish it. People all over our country are hurting. We have seen our neighborhoods ravaged by foreclosures and unemployment. We see a rising resentment to people who are successful, to our institutions and even the government. From the Tea Party to the Occupy Movement - people are angry and afraid. In the early 1960's I had neighbors that were building bomb shelters in their backyards, in case the U.S.S.R launched a nuclear attack. Now people are hoarding food, water, guns and ammunition. People have run out of patience. Patience is not some Casper Milquetoast response of putting our collective heads in the sand. It, like love, joy and peace comes from within us. It is knowing that we are citizens of the Kingdom of God before anything else - He will not abandon us. Patience does not expect instant gratification - rather preservers knowing our best days are ahead of us. Patience says we should pray, but not only pray, we need to roll up our sleeves, stop the pity party and find a way out.  

Ask God to place within you the fruit of His Spirit - LOVE, JOY, PEACE, PATIENCE, KINDNESS, GOODNESS, FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL.


If these traits are within us, we will have a bright future.


Peace
~Al