Thursday, March 26, 2009

In Patience...

"Patience is the companion of wisdom." St. Augustine

"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." Tolstoy

"Patience and fortitude conquer all things." Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears." Barbara Johnson

"Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you, but not in the one ahead." Bill McGlashen

The 13th and 14th chapters of 1 Samuel are packed with powerful punches of relevant reminders. The one I have chosen to focus on today is patience--or the lack thereof.

As Saul's name and fame grew, he faced tremendous opposition from formidable foes known as the Philistines. Their army was enormous and Saul's men were growing more afraid of them by the hour. Saul was waiting on Samuel's arrival so that the offerings and sacrifices could be presented to The Lord in order to seek God's favor. But when Samuel didn't arrive as expected (Saul had waited seven days) he sacrificed the offerings himself.

The Bible explains that as soon as he finished, Samuel arrived. If only Saul had waited one more hour! In assuming the role of a priest, he disobeyed God and totally blew it. Typically, the son of a king would become the next king, but because of Saul's impatience, there would be no Saul family dynasty. Verse 13 of chapter 13 provides a sad description of Samuel's confrontation with Saul:

13 “How foolish!” Samuel exclaimed. “You have not kept the command the Lord your God gave you. Had you kept it, the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. 14 But now your kingdom must end, for the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart. The Lord has already appointed him to be the leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.”

Saul immediately offered excuses and tried to justify his sin rather than humbly confessing that he'd royally messed up--no pun intended. And that's what we are prone to do when we sin, too, aren't we? We live in a blame game culture. It's not "my" fault--"you/he/she/they" didn't do what "you/they" were supposed to do...and on and on the excuses can go. We are expert excusers who have no reasons.

What a shame that Saul missed the chance to see God do the impossible because of impatience. And what a sad thing to see a person with such potential try to minimize or excuse sin.

Thankfully, our wonderful Savior offers patience to those who are willing to wait on Him--and He offers the beautiful blessing of genuine justification when we confess our messes humbly. My hope is that I will never forget that God is seldom early but never late, and that my faith will always enable me to trust that He never fails--even when my flesh feels the torment of impatience.

Father, please forgive my messes--they are many and I offer no excuses. Thank you that you grant patience to those who wait on you and that you renew our strength when we are weak and weary of waiting. You are great and glorious and I praise your name. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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