By Jere Wallack, Pastor, Potomac Conference, Columbia, Maryland
Summary: Christians energized by the Spirit are patient people. They become patient by seeking God’s will and waiting on the Lord.
2 Corinthians 6:1-10
Make Me a Captive, Lord (Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal #568)
From his deserted island, John was given a God-inspired view of the future. And from this revelation he described end-time saints as those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus (Rv 14:12 NKJV). These are comforting words to me. I see myself as faithful to Jesus and a commandment keeper. I guess that makes me a saint. But, you say Read the first part of the text again.
Here is the patience — the pa-t-i-e-n—c—e — of the saints. Patience! You mean saints are patient? My sainthood is shattered! I’m no saint! Take this week for instance! My meager patience collapsed in six days. First, we moved and I had to set up for camp meeting. Next our son relocated to a distant 800 miles away. Then I was summoned to jury duty for three months. I can’t endure! I want it all fixed — Now!
Patience?! Remember when we didn’t demand fast food? Remember when families actually sat down to a meal together and conversed?
In the June 26, 2000 issue of Newsweek, George F. Will provides an insightful history of fast food. The history begins in 1762 with the fourth Earl of Sandwich. He spent long hours at a gambling table and solved his hunger problem by eating meats placed between slices of bread. In 1908 Henry Ford produced the first Model T and Americans started motoring, looking for what eventually became America’s great contribution to world cuisine: ?fast food.’
And now, says Will, The drive-through line has become the new frontier in the quest to go where none has gone before. The great goal of human striving, akin to past attempts to fly through the sound barrier and run a four-minute mile, is to get to 90—that is to an average of 90 seconds from the moment a driver places an order at the menu board of a fast food restaurant to the moment the food is handed out of the takeout window. This all sounds like my morning’s rushed bite of the Bread of Life. It’s interesting that I even want to become a saint on fast spiritual food! Jesus promises us an experience of grace growth as we feast daily, not fast, upon His Word.
Please, Lord, give me patience
Paul tells us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Ga 5:22,23). Christians energized by the Spirit are patient people. John affirms they are in fact, saints. Patient saints are saints because God’s Spirit is in them! They become patient by seeking God’s will and waiting on the Lord.
Joseph became a saint as he prayed and patiently waited. He waited through chains and dungeons. He waited for God to bring to fruition his boyhood dreams. Moses became a saint as he tolerantly learned lessons God had for him. He endured while shepherding stubborn beasts and, even more challenging, a stiff-necked people. He waited on the Lord to lead Israel into the land of promise.
Jesus revealed his sainthood as he waited for his time to come. He held back when he might have used his Godly power during his forty-day test in the wilderness. He was restrained in the Garden as he waited, praying for the will of his Father. He was patient as he uttered the words, ?It is finished.’ He is patient still. As for me? Clearly, I am not.
Receiving God’s grace
As patient saints receive God’s grace, this grace provides favor, salvation and our acceptance of His perfect timing. As God’s fellow workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain. For he says, ?In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation (2 Cr 6:1,2).
For Paul, life was far more intolerable than mine will ever be. As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in sleepless nights and hunger; in patience and kindness, through glory and dishonor, and yet we live on; having nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Cr 6:4-10).
What happened to the impatient Saul to transform him into a patient Paul? In God’s timing, Saul met Jesus on the Damascus road and, as divinity flashed into the darkness of his humanity, Paul accepted his Father’s assurance: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people (2 Cr 6:16). God living in Paul’s heart matured him on the journey to patient sainthood.
Paul’s relationship with God grew as he found assurance as a son of God! We may experience the same growth. What joy to be called the sons and daughters of God (2 Cr 6:18)! He says, I am with you; that is all you need. My power shows up best in weak people (2 Cr 12:9 NB). In His time, God grows His children into patient saints! Wait for Him and give your Father your willing permission to pour His favor upon you. Let our prayer be: Please God, I need your grace, your patience! I patiently wait for your power, which can change my life!
A great fall
Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King’s horses and all the King’s men,
Couldn’t put Humpty together again.
But soon the King heard of Humpty’s fate and was deeply disturbed. So, setting aside his royal finery, disguised as a common peasant, the King slipped unnoticed through the majestic palace gates and into the rough-and-tumble street life of his kingdom. He meandered through the back streets and alleys in search of Humpty. After several days and nights, the persistent monarch found him. Humpty’s shattered body was scattered over a ten-foot circle amidst the broken glass and flattened beer cans of a back alley. Though weak from his searching, the King was overjoyed at the sight of Humpty. He ran to his side and cried, ?Humpty! It is I—your king! I have powers greater than those of my horses and men who failed to put you together again. Be at peace. I am here to help!’
?Leave me alone,’ Humpty retorted, ?I’ve gotten used to this new way of life. I kind of like it now.’
?But’—was all the King could get out before Humpty continued. ?I tell you, I’m fine. I like it here...’
The King tried again. ?I assure you, my kingdom has much more to offer than this back alley—there are green mountains, rolling surfs, exciting cities.’ But Humpty would hear none of it. And the saddened King returned to the palace.
A week later one of Humpty’s eyes rolled skyward only to see the concerned face of the King standing over his fractured pieces. ?I’ve come to help,’ firmly stated the King.
?Look, leave me alone, will you?’ said Humpty. Reluctantly the King turned once again and walked through the streets of his kingdom, back to the palace. It was over a year before the King ventured to return to Humpty’s side. But, sure enough, one bright morning one of Humpty’s ears perked up at the sure, steady strides of the King. This time he was ready. Humpty’s eyes turned toward the tall figure just as his mouth managed the words, ?My King!’
Immediately the King fell to his knees on the glass-covered pavement. His strong, knowing hands gently began to piece Humpty’s fragments together. After his work was completed, the King rose to full height, pulling up the figure of a strong young man. The two walked hand in hand throughout the kingdom... This went on forever. And to the depth, breadth, and height of their friendship there was no end.
Once while walking together down the sidewalk in one of the King’s cities, Humpty overheard a remark that made his heart leap with the joy of his new life and the bitter memory of the back alley. Someone said, ?Say, who are those two men?’ Another replied, ?Why, the one on the left is old Humpty Dumpty. I don’t know the one on the right — but they sure look like brothers!’
The Father patiently waits for our decision. Receiving his gift of grace depends upon our consent. No, I’m no saint. But—hallelujah—because of my Father’s patience, and by His, grace I am granted sainthood! The patience of the saints is not based on patient-performance. Oh, no! Patience is God-given to non-saints, transforming them into saints!
God will put us together again! Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation. Here is the patience of the saints. Vic Pentz, Stories for the Heart, compiled by Alice Gray, Multnomah Publishers, 1996.