Wait a Minute

Let’s try a word-association test. I’ll say a word, and you say the first thing that comes to mind. Ready? “Patience.” (What, you don’t want to play anymore?)

Of all the fruit the Holy Spirit produces in us, the prospect of acquiring patience unsettles us the most. How many times, for instance, have we heard—or said—something like this: “Don’t pray for patience, because you just might get it!” Kindness, goodness, and faithfulness? Yes, Lord, make me more like you. Love, joy, and peace? Come and fill me to overflowing. But patience? Please, Lord, not today. I don’t have time for it.

We’re so thankful when others endure us with grace, and we respect them for their forbearance, so what makes this particular virtue so difficult for us to practice? I think it is because patience is the “time element” fruit: it requires us, amid trying circumstances, to relinquish control over a protracted and often indeterminable period of time. An act of kindness may only take a moment, and we love in real-time. Patience, though, means waiting in faith—abiding a difficulty we cannot control and hoping for what we cannot see—for who knows how long?

Patience is a struggle for us, but it is the very nature of God. We see it in the Heavenly Father’s assurance to His Kingly Son, as David reveals: “The Lord said to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet.’”1 We experience it in God’s regard for us, as Peter writes, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”2

The fact of the matter is, for all it demands of us, patience gives us back much more. So, let’s try our word-association game again . . .

“Patience.” “Rest.” Patience beckons us to rest in God, rather than to churn in doubt.
“Patience.” “Honor.” Patience calls us to honor those we might otherwise belittle.
“Patience.” “Grace.” Patience invites us to “pay forward” the grace God has shown us.
“Patience.” “Contentment.” Patience matures us from situational happiness to unconditional contentment.
“Patience.” “Opportunity.” Patience allows us to repair relationships we have damaged through impatience.
“Patience.” “Enjoyment.” Patience frees us to enjoy the moments we might merely have endured.
“Patience.” “Humility.” In patience, we trust the faithfulness of God and esteem others as our equals.
“Patience.” “Clarity.” In patience, we exchange our agenda of ambiguity for God’s calendar of clarity.
“Patience.” “Faith.” In patience, we overcome the weakness of doubt with the strength of belief.

Father, dare I ask for patience? Yes, though it costs me my will, I choose to trust in your sovereignty, your wisdom, your love, and your faithfulness. Grace me to flourish in the grace and peace I’ll find in patience. In Jesus’ name and the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is humility.

[Read today’s Scripture in Mark 12:35-37.]

1 Mark 12:36
2 2 Peter 3:9

Restored at a Price

It was Augustine of Hippo who confessed, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in you.”1 He certainly spoke for me. In fact, so restless was I one Sunday evening years ago that I called my mother to vent my frustration. “Mom, over the past ten years, I’ve prayed, read the Bible, gone to church, and begged and pleaded with God; but I’m just not getting it.” She listened patiently to my lament and then responded, “I hear you speak of God, but I don’t hear you mention Jesus.” And with so few words, she had gotten to the crux of the matter.

“That’s a sore spot with me,” I replied, “I know the Bible teaches salvation comes through Jesus’ death and resurrection, but I don’t understand why. Why all the drama? Why couldn’t He have just clicked his heels together three times and that be good enough?” (It somehow seemed like a plausible alternative at the time.) Now my mother had been a Bethel Bible Series teacher, and so she summarized the two-year course for me in about five minutes! She shared Leviticus 17:11, where God made it clear that “. . . the life of the creature is in the blood . . . it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” In other words, it takes one life to redeem another life lost.

Then, pulling it all together, Mom said, “In the Old Testament, it was the blood of bulls and goats that was shed for atonement, but that was only a foreshadowing of what was to come. After all, how many goats are you worth? Only God’s life is able to save our life, which was made in His image. Jesus sacrificed His perfect life to pay for our imperfect ones.”

At the heart of redemption is this: Jesus “gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own.”2 We are so treasured and He loves us that much! For life, which is sacred, costs life that is sacred. No other currency spends in the Kingdom of God. No other funds are sufficient. Jesus’ blood—Jesus’ life—is required and nothing less.

Everything clicked. After saying our goodbyes and hanging up the phone, I went to my room, knelt beside my bed, and entrusted my life to Jesus and His payment for my sins.

And, redeemed, I have rested well.

[Read today’s Scripture in 1 Peter 1:17-21.]

1 Augustine, Saint Bishop of Hippo, The Confessions of Saint Augustine, trans. Rex Warner. (New York: The New American Library, 1963), 17.
2 Titus 2:14

This post is taken from Christ in Me. Copyright © 2016 Paul Nordman. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Transition Generations

I’d have to say Bob Bailey is the greatest leader I’ve ever been around. CEO at State Auto Insurance Companies for roughly half of my 35-year career there, he was visionary, principled, optimistic, engaging and kind. He also had about him the wonderful folk wisdom of one raised as a Kansas farm boy; employees loved him and could quote many of his horse-sense adages. One that still comes to mind in pivotal situations is this: “Think about how a decision will play out two, three, and four steps down the road.”

His advice seemed simple enough—EQ before EQ was a thing. “Of course! Why not?” The fact of the matter, though, is that we make all sorts of personal decisions that gratify only briefly before reaping a harvest of regret in due season. Be it the one-time fling or the one more drink—and we might as well add unharnessed anger and unbridled tongues—our indulgent choices of the moment ripple ruin through friends, family and finances, sometimes setting a rocky course for those who will travel in the footsteps we leave behind.

Yet I also know many people who are to their family what I call the “transition generation.” These men and women set out in life on a perilous path, the lane of a lineage marked with abuse, dependency, unfaithfulness or disbelief. Yet through vision, resolve and the grace of God, these brave ones changed the course for themselves, their family and offspring yet to come. They heard a Voice and followed Him to a new path of hope, often at a cost of dear friendships, as the apostle Peter notes, “Those who do not know God are surprised you do not join them in the sinful things they do. They laugh at you and say bad things against you.”1

No matter how bumpy the road left behind by our forebears, we can chart a new course for our family; and if we’ve veered off highways paved smooth by our predecessors, we can make our way back by God’s mercy and grace. I can think of no greater leadership than to bless our family—to be a milepost of hope—two, three, four and more steps down the road.

And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. (Isaiah 35:8a)

Father, this life can be so tough and so difficult to navigate. Lead me and lead my family in courage down your paths of good and right; bless us, so we may bless those who follow in our steps. Lead us in Christ, for He himself is “the way.”2 In His name and by the power of your Spirit, I pray. Amen.

Christ in me is hope.

1 1 Peter 4:4 (NLV)
2 John 14:6

[Click here to read today’s Scripture, 1 Peter 4:1-6.]