One of the main reasons I don’t drive to the church most of the time is that I am not a patient driver. Inevitably catching every red light or getting behind a car going 10 miles an hour under the speed limit makes me go bonkers. Especially when it turns a 7-10 minute drive into something closer to 25-30! It is a weak area for me. I don’t know why, though, but I always seem to have more patience when I am on the bike. Granted, the slow cars are not an issue, but the lights still are. I’ve been thinking about why I can be patient on the bike, even thankful, and not the car, and I think it really has to do with the state of mind.
I genuinely hate to drive. While I love to go from place to place, driving to me is really just a necessary evil. I think because I don’t like it I have to work twice as hard to find patience, whereas when I ride, I am usually genuinely happy to be biking.
I believe everyone is patient with something. For instance, if you’re an accountant you better be patient with yourself in order to get the right information; otherwise you’d get yourself in trouble, or if you were a teacher without patience with children you’d begin to hate your job. If you think about it patience is inherent to who you are. If you like something or have that skill or gift, you tend to have far more patience than you do without that skill.
One of the great difficulties we often have in connecting with others on a personal level is that often if there is not an apparent connection or shared experience we often lose patience and even find frustration. The terrible thing about this is that with such a globalized community, we tend to not develop patience with others who are different because it is easier to connect with those who are similar, and since you know them, like you know your skill or whatever, you can be far more forgiving and patient than you would be with someone who was foreign to your would.
A continual Christian theme is one of patience; early on it was that God would provide, then that God would provide a Messiah, and now that God has promised a second coming. But it is not just patience in that way, God calls us to be patient with the Holy Spirit who is at work among us. More importantly, as we saw in last week’s lesson, God calls us to be patient with the new believer.
It is hard to be patient with someone who is making mistakes and does not do things the way you want, but often when we back away or disengage because we are not patient. Or conversely, because of our impatience we push or carouse; we often are doing more to repel the message of God than to build it up.
Often, we have to give the room God requires us to breathe and allow the Spirit to work. For many of us this is the worst thing for patience, because the hardest impatience to overcome is the impatience concerning an unknown future. Especially when the future is always so unknown.
As Christians we are called to be examples, and one of the ways is to be a witness for others when it comes to our patience, or be able to name and work on our impatience so that we can learn to welcome and accept all people, recognizing that usually the frustration we feel has far more to do with us then it does with them. It is just like when I drive; my impatience has much more to do with my dislike of driving, or being in a car, than it really does with the slow driver or annoying lights.
Rev. Dr. Bryan James Franzen