I am really wrestling with patience these days. Whom I am kidding, I almost always am.
Waiting is hard. It exposes all my idols and shows where my heart and mind really is.
Waiting also exposes my lack of faith or trust. A call for patience in my life reveals whether I have faith to trust in God’s plan or if I am going to act in impatience and try to obtain or grab something the Lord does not have for me yet, or ever.
In the last week and half, I have been in two weddings. Both were incredibly beautiful and very representative of Christ and the Gospel. It was such an honor to stand by two of my sisters in Christ and watch them enter into a covenant with their now husbands. I am so excited for them both and so ecstatic to see what God is going to do with their futures.
But if I am honest, I am struggling with being patient. I am tired of waiting. My heart is longing for marriage. I am irritated and hurt that God has not brought to me what I am so deeply longing for, and have been for some time now. I sometimes doubt that He wants good for me. I sometimes get caught into thinking that my singleness is punishment for past sin. Just yesterday I told God I did not know how to be patient anymore. I told Him I did not have it within me to have faith for this anymore. But then my friend Elizabeth called me.
I wish I were “techy” enough to know how to put an audio file into a Word document so you could hear all the beautiful truth she shared with me. She literally was His mouthpiece in that voicemail she left on my phone. She reminded me that God has heard my cries. He has heard my prayers. She boldly charged me to stop asking God for my heart’s desires, and start thanking Him instead for giving them to me, EVEN BEFORE THEY HAVE ARRIVED. That is faith, my friends. THAT is patience.
Being patient means have faith in the waiting. Being patient is trusting God with your unfulfilled desires and dreams. Being patient trusts in God’s plan over your own.
But again, if I am honest, this still does not make it easy. I struggle with being patient because I feel like I will look dumb waiting for something I do not know if God will give me. However, those thoughts I often have about patience are not found in Scripture. Scripture teaches that patience, or hope, does not put one to shame. Look at just one example: “And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
I love that my friends here at Woven Together are walking this week through the Fruit of the Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit passage in Galatians 5:22-23 must be read in the context of its whole passage. Really the best interpretation of this passage can be found within the entire letter of Galatians, or at least in 5:16-26. (Please excuse my Seminary student coming through! ) But for us, let us just look at the verse that follows 5:22-23. “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” (Galatians 5:24)
If I belong to Christ, if the Spirit lives within me, if I am producing His fruit, I will have experienced the crucifixion of my flesh, with its passion and desires. No, all my passions and desires are not bad. Some are not all evil or unholy. My desire for marriage is not unholy! But it becomes unholy when I am impatient and lack faith in God’s timing and plan for me. Check out what another passage in Romans says:
“For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old ways of the written code.” (Romans 7:5-6)
When I live in the flesh, I bear the fruit that leads to death.
But when I crucify the flesh, I serve in the new way of the Spirit.
We know that this “new way of the Spirit” looks like having love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are all character traits, not specific actions. It is important to note that it is not the “fruits” of the Spirit, but instead the “fruit” (singular) of the Spirit. You cannot be in Christ, full of the Holy Spirit, and only possess one of these character traits. If you have the fruit of His Spirit, you will have them all. No you will not exhibit or display them all perfectly, but you will possess them all because you have His Spirit.
For me bearing the fruit of the Spirit is looking the most like patience right now. But it may look different tomorrow. You will not always “feel” all of the fruit. But know that each are at work and present within you if you have crucified the flesh and the Spirit lives within you.
So I am choosing patience today. For all I know it may still be a long road ahead of me. I am choosing to have faith that it’s a better road though than the one that bears the fruit of death.