Patience: do we have what it takes to listen?

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day. – Psalm 25:4-5

  • I’ve been thinking about the connection between my lack of patience and my walk with God. When it comes to patience, do we have what it takes to listen?

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I stood in front of the kitchen sink this morning, cleaning up the remnants of breakfast, plotting the schedule and the tempo of my day. And there, happily tasting the nectar we’d been replenishing all summer long, hovered a beautiful hummingbird. So I moved – ever so stealthily – around the peninsular to the table where my camera sat, I sighted with precision and care, and then – at the precise moment my finger touched the shutter – the bird was gone.

I waited a little while, then returned to the dishes. Two minutes later a movement caught my eye and there he was again, accompanied by a friend, and this time I simply enjoyed the view. I’ve tried a dozen times to grab a photo over the past few weeks, but the hummingbirds never want to cooperate with my timetable.

Patience:

DSC_0824Ok, by a show of hands, who is really good at being patient? Well, not me, either. But I’m learning. At least I think I am.

You’d think the attainment of six decades of life might soften the hard edge of wanting things and wanting them right now? As if maybe I would have learned that the passing of time can be such a positive intervention in so many situations?

Children grow up – it takes a couple of long decades but you pray each day, hold the course, wait some things out, and there you go. Mortgages get paid down, car notes are paid off, trees grow, hurts heal. Time goes by and – often – hanging in there (consistently, faithfully) can be the very best we can do.

So I should have learned all that by now. But sometimes it’s the opposite, and I hear myself arguing that life looks a little shorter today than it did all those years ago, and realizing the mathematics of it all makes me more impatient because – well – time’s a wasting…

So I set a fresh pot of coffee to brew and went upstairs to my study, determined to knock a couple of deadlines off my calendar.

Ten minutes later I returned to pour my mug of java and – out of the corner of my peripheral vision – two hummingbirds raced by the window on their way to the crepe myrtle blooms by the fence.

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Waiting, coffee and camera…

So I poured my coffee, I sat down by the window, and I set everything else aside in order to drink in the tranquility of the garden, the flowers, the stillness, the silence, the rhythm of my own heartbeat, the presence of God if only I am still enough to listen, the deep knowledge that I have of grace, the peace that passes all understanding, and – yes – the hummingbirds.

Patience. Waiting. Wait on the Lord. It only took thirty minutes of spiritual reflection before the birds came back and – sort of – posed nicely for my camera. Thirty minutes. But of course thirty minutes is a very long time if all the time we ever set aside for reflection is a few seconds, or a minute or two at the most.

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day. – Psalm 25:4-5

On you I wait all the day, Lord. All. the. Day.

– DEREK

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