Today was all about time…and patience….oh, patience.
There’s a certain amount of boldness that comes with praying for patience, because you can be sure that when you’re on your knees, asking the Great God Almighty to gift you with patience, He’s going to answer your prayer. He won’t answer it, however, by giving you profound patience. Oh no: He’s going to give you an opportunity to be patient, a test of your patience, however big or small it may be, and it’s then when you get to decide how much you really want patience.
Well, a few weeks ago, I made the mistake of praying to God for patience, knowing very well what kind of circumstances would ensue. I’m not saying that praying to my God, spending quality time in His word, divulging my heart’s desires to Him was a mistake or that it’s ever a waste of my time, for it’s surely the best way I spend my time. But I am saying that when I ask God for something that’s in His will for me (which includes the manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit in my life), then He will answer with an enthusiastic “yes!”
Anyway, for the last couple of days I have been ridiculously emotional. Yesterday I was eating a peanut butter banana muffin and my dog, Zorro, came into the kitchen and began begging. I stopped eating, looked at him, and said “Why do you want my muffin? It’s mine!” And I stormed out of the kitchen. Then Sophie, our Saint Bernard, watched me as I tried to eat the muffin in the dining room. I looked at her and yelled “IT’S MY MUFFIN!” I then moved toward the living room, looking into the wall mirror as I tried to eat my muffin. But as I stood there, I watched the reflection of the turtle tank behind me, and Mr. Pickles, our turtle, swam into my vision and watched me with mocking eyes as I munched away on the peanut-buttery goodness.
Needless to say, I just about blew up at the turtle, didn’t even finish the stupid muffin, and had a complete mental breakdown where I ended up crying on the living room floor, wishing it would rain jelly beans and craving sushi. It was pretty pathetic.
Today was pretty much the same thing. I woke up emotionally all over the place, and when I mean all over the place, I mean from chocolate to catfish, rain to sun, and donuts to wanting to run a marathon. All morning I was whining and crying and up and down. Thankfully no one was around to witness it.
By the afternoon, however, after I had worked out and calmed down and realized just how emotionally insane I was being, it was much easier to sit down with God and talk to Him. When I did that, when I opened up His word and was reminded of His promises to me, when I could see in plain view His love for me, I realized most of the things I was being emotional about were really silly.
Most of them were about the future, none of them were about the past, some of them were about the present. I was just doubting and doubting and I woke up without remembering that I’m God’s girl, His soldier, His princess. What I think made it so easy for me to fall into this bout of doubt is that I’m home by myself a lot and therefore have lots of time to think and mull over things and become skeptical.
At the end of the day, God stabilized me once again, brought my emotions back to where they needed to be, even though I was still a little edgy. I realized that, although I felt like I was in a period of waiting, waiting on God can be done in great confidence, because God does everything in His perfect timing, and I would be miserable and in a seriously bad place if I tried to rush into anything not ordained by Him. His timing is totally perfect (Ecclesiastes 3:1-15). He knows what I can handle and what I can’t, what I’m ready for in this phase of my life and what I’m flat out not ready for. So, based on the facts, I think it might be wisest to let Him lead in this crazy dance of life 😛
The munchkins and my father came home in the afternoon. Gracie and I spent time in my room, talking and painting each others nails. It was the first time since I’ve been home that my sister and I have had some girl time together, and I feel so privileged to have spent that short time with her. Later on in the night, after dinner, during which she tried to tell me there was such a thing as “quite enough bacon” (silly, silly person) Gracie and I were in the kitchen. She was preparing to make homemade vanilla wafers and I was putting the dishes away. The Cupid Shuffle came on the sound system in the kitchen and she and I began dancing with perfect choreography, simultaneously completing our tasks. I hadn’t done this with her in a very long time. We used to have regular dance parties that lasted for at least an hour, but that had stopped when I left for The City. God gave me another moment with my sister 🙂
Mom came home, and the four of us (my father was at work) prepared our duffel bags and whatever else for the trip to Ohio tomorrow. I spent time talking to Hannah, to Charlene, and to Karly. All of my conversations were refreshing and encouraging.
I’ve been working on my novel a lot lately, and this thought passed through my mind once or twice: “Hunter, by writing this novel, you’re wasting time that could be spent on other things, like going out and proclaiming the Gospel, witnessing to unsaved people, and furthering the kingdom of God.”
This thought reminded me of a conversation I had with Jacob recently. We were discussing what defines a successful ministry, talking about evangelism and its importance. He had reminded me that it’s not so much about going out of my way to talk to strangers on the street, or knocking on doors, or handing out tracts, but about how I’ve loved, whether it’s sharing the Gospel or just helping someone with reading their Bible. This led me to think about how Jesus talked to people and loved people no matter where He was. The people He was with were the people He encouraged and ministered to. Paul was the same way, though lacking the deity of Jesus Christ. Wherever Paul was, he was praising God and loving Him, ministering to those around him.
Right now, the people who are around me are my family members, and they’re really the only people I interact with. So even though I’m not going out and knocking on doors or proclaiming the Gospel to the unsaved, I’m loving and serving my mother by making sure the house is in order when she comes home. I’m loving my brother by talking to him and sitting next to him while he watches TV and being patient with him when he’s impatient with me. I’m loving my sister by spending time with her and setting an example for her to follow, encouraging sisterly affection and pushing her in God’s direction with my words and my actions to the best of my human ability. I’m loving my father by trying to show I respect him and by trying to obey him. They are the people who are around me, so they’re the people I’m going to try to love and minister to by the grace and guidance of Jesus Christ. In a week or so, I’ll be visiting with the Brocks at their home, and they’ll be the people who are around me, so they’re the people I will love and minister to to the best of my ability by the grace of Jesus Christ. In a few weeks, when I’m at camp BaYouCa, surrounded by kids and staff whom I’ve never met in my entire life, they will be the people I’ll love and minister to to the best of my ability by the grace of Jesus Christ. Successful ministry, real, passionate ministry, doesn’t always mean going across the country, going out of the country, or even going outside of your own home. It means building things that will last, encouraging and discipling Christians so that they too can go out and encourage and disciple others.
Do not mistake me: international missions, street ministry, and outreaches are all important and wonderful. But for those of us who are just regular, everyday people, living in an everyday world with the rest of the everyday people are part of the same ministry that the rest of the Christians of the world are. The Body of Christ is a team, a family, a body. No part of the body is more important than the other, and there’s no partiality in God’s eyes (1 Corinthians 12:12-26). Love who you are, where you are, and whom you’re with, not because the love comes from you, but because you’re loved by a God who is the very entity of love.
Don’t even try to love others if your heart hasn’t been effected by the love of God. It can’t be done.
“Well, how can you say we should love those around us if we can’t even love without God’s love?”
I can say this because it says so in God’s word. It says “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 John 4:10, 11, ESV).
Notice it doesn’t say “love others because it’s the right thing to do.” No, Christians have the capacity to love others, not because it’s the right thing to do or because they’re following some moral code, but because their hearts have been utterly transformed by the life-changing love of God and are transformed by this same love on a daily basis.
But I’ve digressed terribly! Today was about time, and about patience. Today, while I was thinking about how I felt unproductive for God’s kingdom because I was sitting around and writing and cleaning and what not, I realized it was a lesson in patience. God is asking me to wait on Him, to allow Him to do what He does best in His perfect timing, to wait for Him to make the first move (Habakkuk 2:1,2). And so I wait with a cheerful heart, learning how to love where I am and who I’m with 🙂
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.” —1 Corinthians 13:1-3, ESV