“We should be patient with ourselves as we learn to follow the example God set for us.”
Think back to the best times of your life, those experiences you always carry with you. These are the memories you cherish. Were there other people there with you? Now think back to the worst times, those days when it seemed like the whole world was against you. Were you alone?
We are made in the image and likeness of God, but rather than try to determine what this says about God, let us think for a moment about what it says about us.
The Holy Trinity is one of our greatest mysteries. This does not mean that we know nothing about the nature of God. It does mean that we can know only what God has revealed to us. And He has revealed to us that He is made up of three blessed persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Our God is a community of three persons, a community based on love. The love between God the Father and God the Son is so great that it becomes a third person, the Holy Spirit. As we are made in the likeness of God, we are a people of community based on love. We are meant to share our lives with each other and work for the common good, building up the Body of Christ, the Church.
This is a lifelong task, a task we we learn and grow into throughout our lives. A task that requires humility and patience.
At the last supper, Jesus tells His followers that the world will hate them. He is preparing them for the trials that lie ahead. But then He stops, He has much more to tell them but sees that they are having a hard time understanding His words. So He stops speaking, leaving the Holy Spirit to guide them.
God waited almost two thousand years from the time of Abraham to send the Messiah. He waited four hundred years before sending Moses to deliver the Hebrews from Egypt.
We live in a fallen world, and very often, God's wisdom translates into patience. Wisdom knows how to wait. God adjusts His plans to accommodate our fallen nature.
It takes time for us to become saints, to grow as mature Christians. It takes time for God's grace to penetrate our hearts.
Abraham and the Stranger
According to an ancient story, Abraham was sitting outside his tent one evening when he saw a weary old man walking out of the desert and coming towards him. Abraham rushed towards him, greeted him, and invited him into his tent.
Inside his tent, Abraham washed the old man's feet, and gave him food and drink. The old man started eating as soon as the food was put in front of him. He did not not pause to say a prayer or thank God or bless the food.
Abraham frowned and said, “My brother, don't you worship God, the Creator of the world, who has given us the earth and all its bounty of food and drink?”
The old man paused for a moment, looked up at Abraham and then started eating again. Between mouthfuls he said, “I worship fire only, the sacred flame that rises to heaven, I know no other god.”
Abraham was first shocked, and then angry. He knocked the plate of food to the floor, grabbed the old man by the shoulders and threw him out into the cold air of the desert night.
The old man said nothing. He looked back at Abraham standing in the door of the tent, and then simply turned and walked slowly back into the desert.
Abraham went back inside and heard God calling him, “Where is the stranger?” God asked.
Abraham said, “Almighty God, Creator of the heavens and the earth, I sent that old man away because he did not worship you.”
“My son,” replied God, “I have suffered him and watched over him for eighty years, although he dishonors me. Could you not endure him for one night?”
God is Patient
God is patient with us, how easily we take His patience for granted.
If God is patient, we should also be. We should be patient with ourselves as we learn to follow the example Jesus set for us. And we should be patient with others, reaching out to our brothers and sisters in small ways, allowing time to win them over.
We live in a consumerist society driven by an ever increasing need for instant gratification. As technological advances increase exponentially, we expect quicker results from our efforts. “Overnight success” has given way to “viral content.” But this has also narrowed our definition of success. We tend to define success as the secular society does, how much money we make, where we live, and the awards and recognition we receive. But that is not the true measure of our success. If we take away those hallmarks of societal success, money, cars, houses, awards., etc., we are left with what really matters, friends, family, the respect of our peers, and so on. This type of success does not come overnight, it takes a life time to achieve, it takes patience.
Jesus tells us that the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart. But the second is like it, we are to love one another as we love ourselves. If we can learn to be patient with ourselves, we can learn to be patient with others.
The greatest service we can do for others is to show them God's love, mercy, and grace, no matter how long it takes.
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.organd can be reached at Lawrence@deaconlawrence.com