Friday, December 18, 2020

Keep Calm and Walk through the Fire

 


My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.  – James 1: 2-4

This is a testimonial.

A few months ago I posted two pieces of paper to the top of my monitors.  One says Wisdom, and the other says Patience.  They were to be reminders for me during the day to pray for both of these spiritual qualities. 

I should preface this by confessing that I have what a cook would call a “scant” of patience.  That’s why I’m praying for it.  Being impatient is hard! There’s no peace to be found when your patience is gone. 

The worst is the grocery store. If I’m in the grocery line, I’m internally panting like a dog for water in the summer heat for the person in front of me to just move along!  Walking through the isles marked “enter here” and “do not enter”? Oh for Pete’s sake! That takes too long when you’re not going through each isle and I must confess…I did not keep with the rules of the isles! And if you’ve parked your buggy up against the isle where I need something, I’ll let you know by pushing your buggy and saying, “excuse me”.  I don’t wait.

It’s also a problem at work.  If meetings go on and on about something I feel is important, I’ll multitask my way through the boredom.  If I’m waiting for someone to join a call, it’s all I can bare to wait 3 minutes past start time!  I prefer my conversations to go like this:  I ask a question, I get an immediate answer, the end.  I used to be much different, wanting small talk and friendliness.  But something has changed even in my communication skills, and I do believe it’s my patience.

When I posted the word Patience on top of my monitor I truly desired to pray and receive more patience.  Yes, I know that many of you will warn NOT to pray for patience because God will work you through tests to get it.  Yes, I know that even James 1 begins discussion on patience by noting “various trials”.

Here’s what I can tell you first had about praying for patience.  Yes, the trials did come.  I can only remember the big ones but there were many little ones too.  In July, I broke my leg and sprained the other.  Talk about having to have patience for yourself to be able to do what you normally do – that was a test.  Having to ask for help…what a test! But I did!

Then in October, the internet stopped working and two months later I have been to technical hell and back with three different carriers, and 4 different internet plans.  I now have four routers: 1 that is working, 2 that became too expensive to use, and one that won’t work no matter what I’m told to do, and an expensive smart mesh network that won’t work with three of those routers. (I’ve not had time to try it on the latest).

Small things happened along the way just to break open the scab on my healing frustrations, such as the microwave door not closing and therefore working.  I did remain “somewhat” patience in that one and fixed it myself with a paper clip!  I had a glass storm door I ordered to make letting our dog out easier delivered in August but could not find anyone to install it till November!  Also in August, I began having work done on the back yard which turned into a five-month fiasco.  We had to walk across an old door to get from patio to yard for several months and live with a muddy trench around our patio.  And just like the Egyptians, there were frogs! 

Then came a root canal in November, which was followed by COVID!  Covid I’m sure was to shake me up and try to scare me.  Friends, at this point my patience had grown callouses on top of callouses from being worked over!  I didn’t fear it because I know my God, and I know His love for me.  But…losing my taste buds…OH FATHER! Can I cry uncle now?

I can’t taste anything – sweet, sour, bitter, umami, nothing.  It’s either wet, dry, cold, warm, hot, chewy, smooth, or crunchy.  That’s all I taste – and I’m GRATEFUL even for that.  But I cannot cook without tasting what I’m cooking, and cooking is my go-to in the evenings to shed the work stress and get creative. 

So how did my patience grow?  SLOWLY like a stone being beaten by river water.  Am I there yet?  On no, not yet.  Will I know when I am full of patience?  That remains to be seen. 

But yesterday I had an incident, another trial, and I was very happy with how I responded.  Our heating unit (one of two) went out overnight Wednesday night.  I had to call yesterday morning to see when the service man could get here.  I was truly hoping for yesterday morning before I had to leave for a COVID retest (it was NEGATIVE!).  You know – I wanted it to fit within my plans because that’s how us control freaks like it.  But when I was told he could not get to it till today….hold on to your chair….I was calm!  I WAS PATIENT! I went to the store after testing and got a couple of heaters and we’re warm and toasty. 

The underlying question I’m sure everyone has is: Is it worth it to go through the trials to gain patience?  Oh Lord, I would say YES.  There is such a peace to be found in being patience with others and with situations that are out of your control.  Friends, the frustrations of this life are there to refine us, like fire to silver.  But a lack of patience spiritually will throw water on that fire. 

James 1:4 says “But let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” By lacking nothing we’re not talking about material things, we’re talking about something greater, something eternal.  You’ll be lacking nothing in your spiritual warfare, your spiritual fiber, your Christlike character.  Jesus is our peace (Ephesians 2:14).  When you grow patience, you open the door to allow that peace to overcome your frustrations and the chaos of this life.

Does that one incident, one spark of patience, mean I’ve arrived?  One does not proclaim victory in a war by winning a single battle!  But I will tell you this.  I’ll keep praying for patience and I’ll keep walking through the fire until my maker either takes me home or I meet his requirements for patience.  Why? Because I seek peace in this world. And I know those around me will have more peace when I am at peace.

Love to you all!

 

 

 


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