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Posts Tagged ‘developing patience’

In this instant age, it can be irksome to have to wait, can’t it? We have become so used to finding instant answers on the net or buying that instant, fast food or contacting someone almost instantly. As a result, when we have to wait for something, we can feel quite put out and inconvenienced, as I did while waiting for my new car last year—and as I did again recently, while shopping at our local supermarket.

Usually, I am happy enough to wait my turn in that checkout queue, but this day, I had bought a lot of items, some of which were frozen—or had been! As I stood there, I felt for the lady before me who seemed lonely and needed to talk, yet I soon became annoyed with the person serving her. Yes, it is nice to connect personally with customers, but you don’t need to stand with your hands resting on the counter, doing nothing but talking, I fumed to myself!

The lady behind me in the queue rolled her eyes and I did the same in return. There was nothing patient or godly about my response—but I did not care at that point.

I did care that evening, however, when I saw on the news how people in flooded areas of our country had to queue for ages outside their supermarkets to get even a few basic supplies. I felt rebuked indeed—and I knew I could have done better. After all, I have been writing for many years now—and one thing authors hopefully develop throughout the whole long-term endeavour of writing, editing, publishing and marketing books is much patience.

I was reminded of this recently during a promotional visit to a nearby bookstore. At one stage, I noticed a lady near my book table who seemed a little familiar. Eventually, I introduced myself and asked if we had met somewhere before.

‘Yes,’ she said, as she mentioned a particular meeting we had both attended. ‘I remember you talked about your book Soul Friend there.’

I gaped. As she continued talking, I recalled how I had only briefly mentioned the book in passing at that meeting, as we each introduced ourselves. Then I realised this meeting had taken place ten years earlier—ten years! Yet this lady had remembered me, for some reason.

We talked on for ages, after which she bought a copy of Soul Friend.

‘I wanted to buy it back then, but knew I didn’t have time to read it. Now I do!’ she told me, smiling.

Ten years earlier, I would never have known this lady was interested in reading my book. And as she left the bookstore, it was as if God whispered to me, ‘See, Jo-Anne? These things don’t happen all at once. Yet they do happen in my perfect timing. Keep on persevering—keep on being patient.’

Somehow, I suspect God takes a much longer view of everything than I do—right on into eternity, in fact. And somehow, I think I need to cultivate that long view more too, to wait for things to unfold in God’s time—and to be patient as I do.

I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. Psalm 130:5

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The Christmas music was playing softly in the background as I walked into our local supermarket one day this past week. The store wasn’t too crowded and the lights were dimmed, to make things more pleasant for everyone. I sighed with relief. How lovely to be able to shop in relative peace and quiet, without so much noise and hassle! And how lovely it had been too, to see the shopping centre’s large nativity scene on display again, just near the supermarket entrance! Such a special reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle.

But then came the rude awakening. Nearby in the fruit section, a man erupted in anger.

At first, I could not work out what was happening. He was standing all by himself, so it was not as if he was angry with another customer or a staff member. Then I caught the words he was spitting out with great venom.

‘Aagh! Stupid, b… bags! What the …?’

On and on the tirade went. Then he threw the offending plastic bag he could not manage to open onto the bananas he had been buying and stormed off, banana-less.

This scenario had nothing to do with me. Yet I found myself still thinking about it as I continued shopping. Yes, I know those silly plastic bags can be annoyingly hard to open. There is an art to it. And often patience is required—something this man obviously did not have at that point. But … what could have caused him to rant like that over such a relatively small thing? Perhaps he had huge issues happening in his life that felt overwhelming, I decided—perhaps the difficulty with the plastic bag was merely the last straw. I prayed then that he would calm down, wherever he had got to, and somehow find God’s peace.

I know in my own life I can become very stressed about little things that don’t really matter. I too can become angry and do and say things I would not normally do or say. But later, when I have calmed down and begun to feel ashamed of how I acted, I take a moment to sit and talk with God. Then I wait until I sense God’s wonderful forgiveness and grace flood over me again, that grace that lifts any shame off me and assures me I am still loved so much—and will be forever. What a privilege to experience this amazing love of God and to be at peace again, knowing God will always welcome me home with open arms!

This is the true peace God offers each of us—including that angry man in the supermarket. Yes, we will have troubles, as Jesus himself told his disciples (John 17:33). But Jesus, in coming to earth, has offered us all a way to be at peace with God again—and to live in peace with others too.

This Christmas, may you know that everlasting peace only God can give, whatever is happening in your life. And may you see in the baby in the manger, God’s deep, eternal love for you and experience that love afresh this Christmas.

And he will be called: Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6b

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