I don’t know about you, but patience is a spiritual fruit that I do not recognize on my tree very often. When impatience comes upon me like a deep freeze in the early spring, the tender fruit blossoms of patience quickly die away. I have to consistently remember to go to God’s Word to keep those tender branches basking in the sunlight so I may bear the fruit the Lord desires and provides in me.
The Apostle Paul strikes me as a person who knew how to wait. But I bet it didn’t come easily. He was a man with a mission, a go-getter with passion and zeal to win the lost. Yet, where do we see him? Imprisoned. Stranded on an island. Flogged, stoned and shipwrecked more than once. Dreams thwarted. When you examine his life, it seems Paul was forced more often into inactivity when he desired action. But experience taught him to trust in the Lord’s providence and to lean on His promises. It was not in due time, but in divine time, that Paul arrived where he needed to be. He knew how to wait patiently and with endurance.
When doing ministry, I like to dream aggressively. I like to think big and expect big things to happen. I like to make contingency plans for great blessings. Not that I’m confident in my own ability, but that I believe that God is able to grant immeasurably more than I ask. And when those prayers and dream don’t come true, well… my patience is tested.
And it’s during those time when the Lord calls upon me to wait. Be patient. And when the Lord allows shipwrecks to happen in my life – when failures cause my dreams to crash into the jagged rocks of great disappointment – is when I can clearly see God’s hand. My grand to-do list was probably not on God’s agenda. My purpose was not corresponding with God’s will. And regrettably, perhaps my motivation was intent on lifting me up rather than giving God full glory and credit. It is only then can I truly discover what it means to wait – and to do so with endurance and patience.
During these times of waiting, we can do so expectantly. While waiting, we can see the work being produced. They are like little streams of water beginning to rush down a mountainside. In divine time, these little streams will join together to former bigger streams of water; eventually becoming a river. When the river becomes big enough is when I can place my boat of dreams and allow God to carry it to its destination.
“Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’” (John 7:37b-38)
Living water is provided to those who thirst. I thank God for providing circumstances in my life that allow me to learn how to wait with patient endurance. For in this period of waiting is when I can truly build up a thirst for living water.