Don’t Pray for Patience!

The fruit of the Spirit is . . . patience. – Galatians 5:22 NIV

I was never known for my patience. Waiting time meant fidgeting time, and I wasn’t one to fidget long before looking for a way to decrease the wait time (translate: run ahead of God).

When the man of my dreams came along—THE one—I didn’t even wait for him to propose. I planned the wedding then told him about it. Good thing he was on the same page as I was.

My late mther-in-law once gave me a refrigerator magnet that read, “God, grant me patience, and I want it NOW!”

Sometime after our first child was born, I realized my impatience (and other not-so-nice traits) was making me—and everyone around me—miserable. So in desperation, I asked God to help me.

While I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a believer—when I didn’t sense the presence of God in my life—this was a turning point—of me turning my life over to God, of me relinquishing control.

Actually, it was an exchange—my miserable life for His glorious one. A.W. Tozer called this “the implantation of the Divine.” I like that term. God implanted His life in me—new life, a better life, abundant life, eternal life (see John 3:1–21). The moment I received the gift of this life, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in me (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Bear with me here. I don’t mean to preach. But after all these years, I’m finally beginning to wrap my head around what all this means.

When I said “yes” to God, He began a work in me (see Philippians 1:6 and 2 Corinthians 5:17), developing the fruit of the Spirit. Of course, I wanted to be a mature Christian right away—remember the refrigerator magnet?

But fruit isn’t fully mature, ready to harvest, immediately. It first appears as a tiny bud that grows into a fruit that ripens over time. It withstands all kinds of weather conditions, which make it stronger, better.

OrangeBloss_wb

So it is with the fruit of the Spirit. “Fruit,” remember, is singular, not plural. Think of an orange: one fruit, many segments.

And one of those segments is patience.

As a young Christian, I was told, “Don’t pray for patience.” Why? Because when you pray for patience, you get plenty of opportunities to practice it.

Patience, as with all the other fruit of the Spirit, takes a lifetime to develop fully. Who wants a lifetime of hard times, difficult situations, impossible circumstances? Yet those times will come, whether we ask for them or not. God will not leave us baby Christians.

James writes, “Dear brothers, is your life full of difficulties and temptations? Then be happy, for when the way is rough, your patience has a chance to grow. So let it grow, and don’t try to squirm out of your problems. For when your patience is finally in full bloom, then you will be ready for anything, strong in character, full and complete” (James 1:2–4 TLB).

These days, I’m much better at waiting—although I still won’t pray for patience. If God wants to send me something that will strengthen it, I know He’ll give me the grace to endure it.

Now if God can change a squirming, fidgeting, impatient person like me, imagine what miracles He can work in your life!

Thank you, Lord, for Your life in me. Thank you for taking the ugly parts of me and making them beautiful. Amen.

 Extra tea: Read and meditate on James 1:2–4

NOTE: Concerning salvation and new life in Christ, I like Dr. Steve McVey’s perspective:

In his book, 52 Lies Heard in Church Every Sunday, Dr. Steve McVey writes, “Salvation is not a matter of you giving your life to Christ. In fact, it has nothing whatsoever to do with what you have given God. Grace revolves around what He has given us, not what we give to Him! You receive eternal life not because you gave Christ your life. You receive eternal life because He gave you His Life!”

Do I hear “Amen!”?

*****

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