Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. (James 5: 7-10)
OK, so we’re thinking we’re supposed to be reading stories of angels coming to Mary and Joseph or maybe more about that vision that God holds for us. And some guy named James or, in that century, someone that wrote in the name of some guy named James, tells us to “be patient”. Who is this? He obviously did not have Christmas shopping to do. He obviously did not have to worry about putting his decorations up. He obviously did not have to crank out bulletins and sermons for the next four weeks. He obviously did not understand our situation. I mean, we need to get this show on the road. Isn’t that the way we do things?
Truthfully, we Western Christians struggle with the whole idea of Holy Patience. In fact, it is probable that for most of us, that phrase is an oxymoron. We live in a permanent state of hurrying, trying to get to the “next thing.” So we struggle with our faith journey which is always an exercise in the practice if patience, the practice of simply being, of honoring the sacredness of the moment. Perhaps that’s the whole point. We are not told to be patient because God doesn’t have time to deal with us right now or because God in some passive-aggressive act is holding back on the promise that we’ve been given and dangling it out there like some sort of temptress. We are told to be patient because where we are is the place that we are called to be. The “next thing” is not yet.
This season of Advent teaches us patience if we will only pay attention. But we are in such a hurry to get to the “next thing”, to get to the big day, that we are missing out on the now. Being patience does not mean ignoring what is to come. Being patient is about understanding that this moment, this one, never-again-to-come-again moment is the place to prepare you for the next thing. Jumping to the “next thing” does not get you down the road faster; it takes you to a place that you are not prepared to be. Be patient. God will come when God will come. God will come when the moment is the right one. God will come and those who have patiently and actively waited will be the first to know.
I discovered that in the spiritual life, the long way round is the saving way. It isn’t the quick and easy religion we’re accustomed to. It’s deep and difficult–a way that leads into the vortex of the soul where we touch God’s transformative powers. But we have to be patient. We have to let go and tap our creative stillness. Most of all, we have to trust that our scarred hearts really do have wings. (Sue Monk Kidd)
FOR TODAY: Be patient.
Grace and Peace,