By Rev Don Rivers
Welcome back as we continue our Winter Bible Study, our journey to discover the character of God and how we reflect it. The challenge lies in the fact that we are not God, therefore it will be difficult to achieve perfection, but we can put the effort in to try. God is patient with us as we make progress along the way. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We jump in with our first word study to focus on, patience. As I have said before God’s Word has a way of building on itself. Just as we cannot reflect the true character of God without the presence of the Holy Spirit, we will find it easier to develop that character if we build on each previous character trait.
This passage is one we may be familiar with. Galatians 5:19-23. For the next few weeks, we will focus on the last part of verse 22 and 23, one word at a time. We will discover the byproduct of having the Holy Spirit in our heart.
Galatians 5:22-23; But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
It is said; “Don’t pray for patience.” Why? Because, God will continually put us in situations where patience is required. That can and is very frustrating if we fail to realize what is going on. We want patience but we don’t want to have to develop it. Waiting isn’t something we are good at. We have been conditioned by the world around us to get it now, don’t wait, you’ll miss out.
There is a phrase echoing in my brain; “You can’t win the race on the first lap!” no truer words have ever been said, unless it is a one lap race, then by all means get to the front! No, even a one lap race involves patience. Let things sort out and find your way to the front. While you cannot win on the first lap we can certainly lose the race on the first lap.
I remember a Modified race at Monadnock, it was scheduled for 200 laps. I am sure each team had a pit strategy and was prepared to make the adjustments needed to move to the front. They wouldn’t have the chance. The race ran green to checker, no caution. Wow, didn’t see that coming. What transpired is a lesson on patience.
Have you heard the story of the tortoise and the hare? The polesitter settled in running consistent laps while other competitors raced to the front only to fade at the end. The polesitter fell back to fifth place as the laps ticked off. As the end drew near, one by one each rabbit faded and the polesitter gained another position. When the checkered flag fell, he won the race.
This was one of those times where the stats don’t reveal the true nature of the race. The polesitter won from the pole, no cautions, no drama. That wasn’t the case at all. Not only was there the excitement of watching different cars take their shot, we all were on the edges of our seats wondering when the first caution would fall. It never came, the race was won with patience.
I grew up with access to farm fresh milk. The reality was you had to shake it to mix it back up because the cream rose to the top. You may be familiar with the statement the cream rises to the top. That has become less applied to milk and more applied to life. We view the cream as the good stuff. It takes time for the good stuff to rise to the top. That is why skim milk isn’t so desirable, they skim the good stuff off the top. Don’t let anyone fool you, the fat is the good part.
It takes patience for the cream to rise. Just like it takes patience for good to work its way out. One day a friend was at a traffic light, patiently waiting for it to turn green. The fellow in front seemed to be paying attention, but was deep in thought. The light turned green, he didn’t move. Beeping, yelling, waving hands, telling him he is number one, nothing worked. As the light turned yellow the fellow in front looked up, saw it and sped through.
He was livid, he fumed, shook his fist and beat on the dash of the car when he noticed the cop behind him, lights flashing. He pulled over. The officer approached; “out of the car please.” He was cuffed and brought into the station.
After some time, the officer came back and was apologetic. “I am sorry sir; I was sure you stole that car.” Puzzled he asked, “Why?”
The officer explained he watched the whole scene, all his antics, heard his colorful language and watched his hand gestures. The officer then noticed the Christian bumper stickers on the car. That didn’t add up. Surely the driver couldn’t be a Christian. He certainly didn’t display the character traits of God. He must have stolen that car.
Romans 2:4 (NLT), Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?
God shows us his patience with us, helping us and waiting on us to develop the character that reflects His presence in our lives. As I have more life experience here on the third rock from the sun, I realize things don’t have to move so fast. Things are not as immediate as I think they are. Oh, don’t misunderstand, there are things that need to be done now, but when we develop patience we will come to understand not everything needs immediate attention.
Patience is about letting things sort themselves out. Letting things calm down and the dust settle. Patience allows us to see clearly and determine what needs to be a priority. The important and significant things reveal themselves when we have the patience to wait and see.
How many times have we pursued something only to find it wasn’t what we thought? We can be guilty of making decisions with half the information and then reacting in a way that reveals our sinful nature when, if we just were a little more patient we would have seen things clearer. With patience we can see things for what they are.
One of the tools of the enemy is haste. He prompts us to react and decide before we know the whole story. We are good at jumping to conclusions, wanting to find a solution and then move on. Truth is those 99 things in our head that we think we need to deal with, the majority of them are not real, we just think they are. So how do we sort them out? Ask God and patiently wait as He reveals the answer.
We never know who is watching. We never know who is following our example. It is important to reflect the character of God if we claim to be His. Think about that this week.
Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support and donations helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.