“Therefore I [am ready to] persevere and stand my ground with patience…”
II Timothy 2:10
I wonder sometimes if we really get the difference between these two words? Of course, it’s no shocker that I think patience can be highly over-rated. I’m not by nature a patient person. But the truth is, I’m not really against patience—when it’s true patience. I am, however, against being passive claiming we are being patient. There are times we must push, confront, enter into conflict, face our fears, and take charge of our lives. Yet, often in the name of “Just be patient” we do none of the things we should. This applies to so many areas of life: our health or healing, our finances, our jobs/careers, our relationships, our spiritual lives…even our futures.
This verse is interesting to me in that Paul is standing his ground with patience. He’s not doing nothing with patience; he’s not twiddling his thumbs or complaining with patience. He’s standing his ground. So, there are times when our patience requires action. Seems incongruent doesn’t it? That’s the point! We have accepted this idea that a passive existence is somehow spiritual…that waiting on God means we have nothing to do with the outcome. In my own life, this is a dangerous mindset. When I sit back and passively wait on circumstances to change…on people to read my mind…on life (or God) to give me what I feel I deserve, I’m not actually waiting—I’m wasting time! I’m afraid we spend too much time waiting and wishing. We all have the power to accomplish great things, but the truth is: God expects us to participate and to live with passion and purpose—not passively waiting for things to be easy.
Read about Caleb in Joshua 14. In verse 12, he demanded of Joshua: …”Give me this mountain….” That is not a passive sort of faith that takes what comes—but one that rises to the occasion and to the promises God has given us. I bet we all have areas of life that we have become passive in…maybe without even realizing it. Take this encouragement to stir up your faith into action and believe for something bigger and better!
“Christ’s anointing teaches you everything you need to know about yourself and Him. Live deeply in what you were taught. And now, children, stay with Christ.…” I John 2:27-28
This verse is a great admonishment for us–as socially connected people who thrive on Facebook or Myspace and even as bloggers. It reminds us to seek to hear, listen and obey God first in every situation. We can become so dependent on what others think or say that often we don’t stop and listen to what God is saying. Sometimes, we substitute advice (“wisdom”… “counsel”) for seeking God on our own. Certainly, there are times when seeking godly counsel is appropriate–BUT we must know how to hear from God on our own. Thoughts on your Facebook wall…or a comment on a blog post do not constitute godly counsel–they may be well-intended, and God may use them to confirm or encourage us…but the point is, we must learn to wait on God for what we need.
This verse promises that the Holy Spirit–God’s anointing working in and through us–will teach us everything we need to know. It’s our responsibility to seek God’s counsel first. He wants us to come to Him, to read His Word, to learn to hear His voice, above the din of Internet distractions and well-meaning friends. I’ve learned that people are all too happy and quick to give their opinion and “counsel” without even asking if you’ve prayed about something. I think that should be the first question we ask when someone is looking for direction. Then, we should find out what they feel God is telling them. IF they don’t have a clue…then we should gently encourage them to pray about it and meet up at a later time when both of us have had time to pray about it. Wouldn’t that improve the counsel and conversation??
It can take time to seek God, and to really hear from Him. In this instant age of texting, IM, and online networks, we are used to immediate responses from people. I don’t think God has changed just to meet our preferences. In our own impatience, we run to others hoping for a quick answer; maybe we blog it hoping one of the comments will be OUR word from God. Could this happen? Sure. God can and will use every available avenue to speak to us. But, I think His first choice is the old fashioned way…and His desire is for us to patiently seek Him and wait for Him to lead us. It does take discipline, and even practice, but He is faithful…when you seek Him you will find Him!
This ties in to JudiFree’s discussion on making your way in a company or organization that is going through major changes. As Christians, we feel it is wrong to toot our own horn. We also profess that promotion comes from the Lord. So what does that leave us to do in a competetive work environment?
I think this thought from InProv gives great direction:
Are You One Who Can Deliver The Goods?
God has given us His goods. And He gave us His goods that we might do business with them. He gave us His goods so that we might use them to serve others, to show them the way to life! Matthew 20:28 says Jesus “did not come to be served, but to serve.” Luke 19:10 says, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” If you become a man or woman who is known to deliver the goods (His goods!), then everywhere you go you will experience His favor. Why? It is because people who sit in darkness desperately want to see light. The hopeless are looking for hope. From InProv’s website
We set ourselves apart through SERVICE. We can define ourselves by finding the NEEDS within our organization and striving to fill those needs. Often times, higher ups and those in leadership may not be able to clearly see those needs. It takes one who is in the thick of it to see where weaknesses lie and then offer ideas for making them strengths. YOU be the one to observe, give input, and be WILLING TO DO THE WORK, and you will become invaluable to your company.
“I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more.” John 15:1 MSG
As I was meditating on this chapter, and after reading Teresa’s post, I realized something. The pain of pruning affects the plant as much as the branches that are cut away. In essence, we wound the original plant in order to encourage new growth, or in some cases to create new plants from the cuttings. And while the new cutting is transplanted and regrown, the plant itself is left to heal.
It’s remarkable really when you think about nature’s ability to heal itself; even our bodies have the incredible power to recover. We as the Body of Christ, have the same power and resiliency to allow God to heal us! Although in tough times that may be hard to believe.
We all know recovery can be a slow and painful process. But as we keep our eyes fixed on God and the future He’s promised each of us–and keep a positive attitude–I believe we can grow into a stronger and healthier plant than we were to begin with. At least that’s what I’m hoping for…