Lent is fast approaching, a season of unrest for a culture of immediate satisfaction. We are desperate for immediacy. It is a task to learn how to be patient.
The word patient is funny. We use it to describe a trait on people good at waiting. We also use it to describe someone who is receiving medical care. The definition is “able to accept or tolerate delays, problems, or suffering without becoming annoyed or anxious.” There is nothing in our culture, which teaches us to tolerate suffering without becoming anxious. We only have drugs for that.
As I was discussing this aspect of life with a group I had a realization we, as in humanity…which means “my experience,” has a very hard time with being patient. Sure we can point to drive-thru windows, express checkout lines, and two-day delivery but if we peel all of that back there is something deeper.
I enjoy looking back in hindsight and pointing out where I see all of God’s fingerprints. As a Wesleyan, I am a firm believer and experienced Prevenient Grace receiver. This grace is found all over my life however it is really seen in hindsight, looking back after you go through a season of life. It is seen in reflection, playing back life moments, like a movie montage.
When I look back for grace, God’s presence, and how the Holy Spirit has led me through troubling times, it makes me want to hurry to a place where I can do this kind of reflection. It makes me want to get to the end of the journey faster. I find myself wishing the present away so I can look back in the past. Patience is not my virtue.
If patience is to tolerate delays without annoyance, then why do I want to rush through? Why can’t I find the grace in the present? Why can I not feel God’s hands on my life in the moment when the fingerprints are being placed on my soul? Why do I have to wait until the journey is over to see them?
My problem is my inability to recognize God in the present. To do this means to slow down, to pay attention, to be comfortable in the midst of waiting. It is whole patience thing. I would love to know all the answers now in order for me to settle into the present, but those aren’t promised. I would love God to move me to Easter, at the resurrection, because it makes the crucifixion less of a taxing event.
God doesn’t promise us a window into the future to calm the present and allow ourselves to recognize God at work in the now. Instead, what I should continue to cling too is Jesus’ last words to his disciples in Matthew’s gospel. “Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (Mt. 28:20)
God is here in the now and walks with us through the present. As we (by which I mean I) go into Lent, instead of looking forward to Easter or looking back for examples of God’s grace, let us pay attention to God’s fingerprints pressing our on flesh right now. May our eyes, my eyes, be open in the midst of our waiting to the reality God is with us.