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Posts Tagged ‘impatience’

The Apostle Paul said, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”  Throughout the epistles he exhorts us to do the same.  Recently, I’ve sensed the Lord highlighting some of the childish things that need to be put away.

 

First and foremost, a child is self-centered.  A baby has no capacity to concern itself with whether its parents are tired or busy or sick, it just knows that it’s not comfortable (e.g. hungry, wet, gassy, tired) and it demands immediate attention.  Presumably, as we get older, our awareness of other people and their struggles grows, but in times of trouble we can easily return to our infancy, becoming blind and numb to anything other than our own wants, needs, or pain.

 

As a baby grows into a child it becomes increasingly responsive to external stimuli, like light, color, noise, music, touch… and through this it learns to interact with the world around it.  Eventually, these external forces begin to shape the child’s concept of life and identity.  But as we grow in spiritual maturity, we’re called to become less responsive to what is seen (which is perishing), and more sensitive to what is unseen (which is eternal).

 

Young children tend to easily fall into covetousness when they see something they want, jealousy when someone else has what they want, and to have tantrums, when they don’t get what they want.  It is not a given that age and experience will cause us to grow past these things.  Often, we simply become more subtle in the ways we express them.

 

Children are also famous for their impatience and fertile imaginations, both of which can become powerful tools in the hands of the adversary.

 

Indeed, the scripture admonishes us to humbly esteem others above ourselves, to bless and serve those around us, and to be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”.   It commands us not to covet, warns us against the “acts of the flesh” (including jealousy, selfish ambition, fits of rage) and reminds us that “self-control” is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. It tells us that we must cast down our imaginations, to learn to “wait on the Lord”, and to embrace patience as a reflection of Christ’s character.  Throughout the New Testament it speaks of the transformation that God desires to work in each of us, and He assures us that He is faithful to complete this good work that He’s begun in us.

 

It’s likely that none of us want to think of ourselves as being childish, but I sense the Lord challenging us to allow Him to reveal the “childish things” that we still need to put away.  To uncover those instances where we’ve become callous and numb to other people’s pain, or those circumstances that we’ve unwittingly become slaves to, or those things that we’re coveting and maybe even making into idols.  To show us those places within our heart where self-pity, jealousy, and bitterness dwell; and to expose the imaginings that have replaced the genuine prophetic vision He means to give us.

 

Like David did in the Psalms, we need to invite Him to examine our hearts.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”.  Amen.

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I have often referred to the emerging generation as the “Drive-thru Generation”, in recognition of their steady refusal to endure anything that isn’t quick and easy.  But in many ways, we older folks are no different.  Just because we can remember a time when we had to warm-up leftovers on the stove, or to find a pay phone, doesn’t mean that we’d be willing to do that today.  In fact, we are the ones who are principally responsible for cultivating this expectation of convenience within the lives of our children.  As human beings, we tend to want what we want, and we want it now.  And to be honest, we’re perfectly willing to sacrifice nutritional value to get it.

 

Unfortunately, this paradigm often spills over into our spiritual lives as well.  We can say that we are committed to following God’s principles, or maybe even the leading of His Spirit, but we regularly find ourselves unwilling to submit to His process or timetable.  Like the prodigal son, we can legitimately claim to be an heir, but we are unwilling to wait for our inheritance.  In Charismatic circles, we often try to masquerade this impatience as “faith”, by boldly declaring our desired outcome as being attained; but like a baseball player trying to hit an off-speed pitch, we’re way out in front and swinging too hard.  We like to think of it as calling on the promises of God (as though we need to hold God’s feet to fire in order to get Him to live up to His word), but the reality is that for everything there is a season, and we’re not in control of how a season unfolds.  When “name it & claim it” doesn’t work, we may decide to take matters into our own hands, but in such instances we run the very real risk of giving birth to an Ishmael (i.e. something illegitimate, distracting, troublesome, heartbreaking, chaotic…).  Like Abraham and Sarah, we can try to rationalize that we just want to see God’s promises fulfilled, but our real struggle is rooted in the fact that we’re just not willing to wait on the Lord.

 

If Jesus, the perfect Son of God, was not willing to do “anything” until He saw His Father do it first, how can we expect to proceed differently?

 

(Note:  See Genesis 16 & 17 for an account of Ishmael).

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