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“‘You have done a foolish thing’, Samuel Said. ‘You have not kept the command the Lord Your God Gave You; if you had, He would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time‘”. 1 Samuel 13:13

“Therefore Jesus told them, ‘My time has not yet come…..'” John 7:6

“After Jesus said this, He looked to heaven and prayed, ‘Father the hour has come. Glorify Your Son that Your Son may glorify You.'”. John 17:1

“Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become restless and disturbed within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him..” Psalm 42:5

Patience is a…..virtue?, burden? overrated? obstacle? in short supply? (Note: “Patience is a virtue”; is not a quote from the bible, it is attributed to Cato the Elder)

Are we running out of patience? Is patience keeping us from action?

So let’s start; what is there to be patient about? There is a lot happening these days; what with, wars and pandemics, mass shootings, bombings, hate crimes, climate change and the list goes on. Especially, when these types of events impacted numerous people, it has been a mainstay to offer and exhort the offering of “thoughts and PRAYERS as a way of facilitating comfort and restoration.

Here’s why I want to ponder patience in connection with these happenings and offering of “thoughts and prayers”. It seems that recently, while there is still a very common and sincere desire to offer and exhort the offering of prayers for comfort, there is a, perhaps small but perhaps growing pushback concerning that sentiment, that “thoughts and prayers” have little to no value. Seemingly in some way, that praying is some cop out for not doing any real substantive, effective action. There seems to be a sense that we can’t afford to wait on some future response to some offered prayer, that may or may not match what we feel is the needed solution. What we need is action NOW! And if God is not going to act as we’d like, it then becomes up to us! Also, perhaps, out action is just as good as God’s!

Dear Sisters and Brothers, one of the greatest blessings of the Bible is the teaching it can give us about living. You see Saul had a pretty dire situation. There were enemy troops on Israel’s border and more were coming every day. As King, Saul felt responsible for the defense of Israel. Saul also felt that he needed to take immediate action to defeat the enemy. As more enemy troops arrived, Saul’s own troops were getting scared and less motivated to fight. There was one major problem. Saul was a king, appointed by the Will of God. As such, he wanted to honor God by sacrificing to Him before going into battle; to not have a sacrifice would be a grave blunder and put victory in certain jeopardy. Yet by law, God’s law, there were only a few, a priest or prophet who could appropriately offer sacrifices to God. Unfortunately there were none available to King Saul at the moment. He believed the Prophet Samuel was on his way, but time was wasting and the threat was growing. So Saul lost his patience with the delay. Saul felt that action, any action was warranted over doing what was right. Saul offered his own sacrifice which was just ending as Samuel arrived. It is said it is better to beg forgiveness versus waiting to ask permission. King Saul might disagree. Because of his impatience and subsequent rash action King Saul was advised by Samuel that the kingdom would be stripped from him; which it was indeed done later.

Now please understand, this is not a diatribe against action or even immediate action to relieve pain and suffering; far from it. It is a reflection on the possible discounting and devaluation of putting our Heavenly Father at the center of our actions even it there is time needed for discernment, versus taking what we believe to be equally valuable and effective human action sans prayers or thoughts of the Almighty.

Jesus Christ knew about timing and patience during His earthly ministry (and of course still does today). On several occasions the Gospels give accounts where mobs were going to either stone Him or throw Him off a cliff and they did not succeed. Not because Jesus would never die at the hands of men, but that the appointed time and circumstances for that death had not come. When the time came, a small, scared, weak mob was able to arrest, try, convict and kill Jesus. Jesus had the patience to put the Father’s plan first and patiently live into it. Thus Jesus Christ lives and lives at the Right Hand of God the Father Almighty.

So what is it that you or someone you know is struggling with today? To you or them, this struggle may be as completely overwhelming and tragic as the most horrendous mass shooting or act of hatred. The world may be screaming at you to act and act now. Additionally the world may be warning you that to include prayers, to include time for calling out to and awaiting an answer is a fool’s errand and an extremely dangerous delay. The world may be proclaiming to you that either you yourself, or the world has all the plans and resources necessary to solve all your problems; you should look no further. If you are feeling tempted in that way; I encourage you to remember King Saul.

The Holy Spirit that resides in you is exhorting you to be like Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ prayed to God throughout His life here on earth. Even during the stress and despondency of Jesus’s time in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus reached out in prayer. And God always answered. Jesus Christ knew to be patient. Jesus Christ knew God’s plan, including timing is perfect. Jesus Christ was at peace in and because of His interaction with God. We can be too.

Let the world rail against prayer as a waste of time. Let us make it a priority to put prayer first, even when we act; having complete faith in the perfection of our Heavenly Father’s answer both in its solution and its timing. Patience in God is a virtue indeed.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we understand that we live in times where speed is a primary measure of effectiveness. The faster the better. Forgive us when we are tempted to apply that worldly standard to You and Your Plans. Forgive us when we are tempted to and actually go with our own actions, foregoing Your counsel, because we are impatient to wait upon You. Strengthen our spirit of patience in You that we might faithfully reach out to You in all things and be supplied with strength enough to wait for Your perfect reply. That being in peace and alignment with Your Plan and Will, we will live confident lives that bring praise to Your Holy Name. We pray in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen

“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles. Isaiah 40:31

Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick tempered displays folly” Proverbs 14:29

“…how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!” Matthew 7:11

…Love is patient….. 1 Corinthians 13:4

I was prompted to write this post because of an interaction I had a short time ago. Hours after the workday had ended, a thought occurred to me that not only impacted me but two of my colleagues as well. What did I do? Did I wait until the next day to “call” them? Of course not, I pulled out my trusty smart phone (note the phone being smart does not imply the same for it’s owner/user) and texted away.

Here’s the thing; I’m a definite baby-boomer, both in age and in technical acuity. More often than not my preference is to talk to people. Also, I often go to my grown children, but also did when they were much younger to explain technical processes and troubleshoot issues.

Now, again it’s past work hours and before smart phones and accompanying technology, I would not have picked up a phone at that hour and called them. This was not an emergency. Additionally, I was not looking for or even expecting necessarily an answer that night, I just wanted to put the issue out there. However, an answer did come back from both of my colleagues in a very short order and a digital conversation ensued.

Where am I going with this and what does it have to do with prayer? Good question. You see we have so many different ways to communicate today; face-2-face, email, phone, text, video chat, and, and…. One aspect that has also changed or expanded is how we can reply when engaged in the various communication channels. If I ask you a question in person, depending on the question I might expect an immediate reply. Perhaps I expect some aspect of immediacy on a phone call or video chat. Yet what about the other channels, do I expect an immediate answer or at least acknowledgement of receipt? How patient am I for you to return my communication/inquiry with some acknowledgement or answer. How often do we find ourselves watching the moments tick by on a clock with slightly or perhaps more so, elevated blood pressure or frustration when the minutes are passing without some returned communication is some way. It seems to me, both in personal experience as well as watching greater society function; there is an expectation of imminent if not immediate response to our inquiries or some required explanation for delay. Rarely do I hear “patience is a virtue” either spoken or especially practiced.

What I wonder is, to what extent that worldly expectation, creeps its way into communication and relationship with Our Heavenly Father; especially in our spiritual practice of prayer? “Hello God?….are you there?……..I prayed this request yesterday……..You’re a God of infinite power, wisdom and say You have a plan…………..let’s get with it…I’m busy….I need Your answer”. While those specific words may never actually be or even contemplated to be prayed; but the question is, what is in our heart?

It seems that in the world, a quick response is a desired, perhaps even accepted response. The longer a response takes for us to receive; the more we tend to ask the question: What is wrong? or What is the explanation for the delay? We tend to fear that other than an immediate positive reply is a rejection. Additionally, if we’re not careful, we will be tempted, like the example of King Saul, to act impetuously, not waiting for the Lord’s reply but striking out on our own, with our own wisdom, causing destruction to ourselves and potentially those around us.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, our Heavenly Father declared in Isaiah: “Neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8). Yet Our Heavenly Father’s ways, to include His plans, which includes His timing are perfect. So we must resist the world’s pace and demands for answers and have patient faith in God. It is not that He might have us wait as some kind of power play or ploy to show who’s the boss. He doesn’t need that. However, we do need His timing.

So please, ask. Jesus tells us we should go forth and ask. We should ask having faith that we are heard. Jesus also is clear. We are loved by our Father. Jesus asks us to consider that if we who are fallen can still give good gifts to our children, how much more will our perfect, loving Father respond with blessings. Yet we should have and if we’re lacking in, we should pray for help in responding in faith, patient faith. Paul tells us that love is patient, which also means that having patience is an act of love.

Let it be that in our petitions to our Heavenly Father as well as in our faithful, patient expectation of His blessed response; we will live lives of thanksgiving and praise to His Almighty Name.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father we are so thankful that You have seen fit to allow us to make requests of You. Yet Gracious Father, you know we live in a world that is increasingly impatient with any gap between question and answer. Forgive us Most Merciful Father when we are tempted to apply worldly standards to Your relationship with us. Keep us from being tempted to stray from patiently waiting upon Your perfect response to go our own way based on our own minimal wisdom. Give us the strength to resist impatience and instead remain in peace and faith, confident in Your perfect timing. We pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

“When I saw that the people were scattered from me and that you did not come within the days appointed…….Therefore I felt compelled and offered a burnt offering.”  1 Samuel 13:11, 12

“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people talked of stoning him…….Then David said to Abiathar the priest: ‘Please bring the ephod to me.  So David inquired of the Lord…”  1 Samuel 30:6,8

It is said: “Patience is a virtue.” and in trying to  give credit to the origin of that exact phrase, there is much debate about where and by whom it was first used.  Nevertheless,   clearly in the Psalms we are told to “wait on the Lord”. (Psalm 27:14)  It can be easier said then done as we see in the two examples in Samuel.

Saul had been king for over a year.  Samuel had specifically told Saul that he was chosen king by God.  God had already given Saul a great victory as king over the Ammonites.  So Saul had ample evidence that God was with him  God had also given Saul, as well as the people of Israel, other resources for success.  The law which stipulated who was to perform such spiritual things as giving sacrifices and a prophet (in this case Samuel) to give them specific instructions.  Yet Saul was in an earthly pickle.  A major army was coming against him and the people of Israel, the dreaded Philistines.  Saul had called out men of Israel to be his army and when they saw the size and weapons of the Philistine Army, we are told they became distressed and started to run away.  Saul feared he was losing control.  He felt that if he lost his men then the Philistines would attack and destroy him.  Being a good leader, Saul figured he needed to act.  Worldly leadership concepts would applaud this.  In his mind, Saul was not completely forsaking God, because he at least offered a sacrifice before going into battle.  Only one problem, God’s edict, His law clearly prescribed who was worthy to give a sacrifice and it was not the king.  Saul knew it and, out of fear, completely disregarded it.

David is in a pickle.  He had been chased by Saul for many months all across the country.  He has been forced to leave the lands of Israel and live with Philistines.  Even then, David had acted with honor and in humble service to the leaders of the Philistines.  Yet they spurned David, they told him they don’t trust him and sent him back to his city; when they decided to do battle with Israel.  Worst than that, when David returns to the city, he finds that another people have attacked, burned the city and carried off all his men’s family as captives as well as their possessions.  David’s men are so angry at him, they are planning to stone him.  Again, David has been told by Samuel that he has been chosen king by God.  God has already given David great military victories and blessings at this point.  David’s men are demanding immediate action.  Who could blame David for acting impulsively and striking out after his enemy?  But David won’t do so.  No, David takes the time to call upon the priest.  Takes time to ask of God and wait upon His answer.

The outcome of these two situations clearly show the consequences of these two men’s behavior.  Saul shows God by his behavior that given circumstances between the demands of people and the demands of God, Saul can not be trusted to rely on the Perfect, Righteous demands of God.  The kingdom is eventually ripped from Saul’s hands and he is killed in battle.  On the other hand, David shows by his behavior that he will resist the demands of the world and first reach out to and then wait upon the Lord God Almighty to answer; which God does swiftly.  God instructs David to pursue his enemy and God will deliver the enemy into his hand.  David then goes forth in pursuit and is victorious, just as God promised.

Dear brothers and sisters there is no doubt we are facing challenges, even crises in the world today.  We are also faced with a world that rewards action over almost everything else.  Don’t just stand there do something; anything!  More and more the world demands action now and tries to swiftly punish those who will not fit into its way of doing things.  However, Jesus teaches us to act differently than the world.  Jesus tells us to first and foremost, always call upon the Name of God.  Jesus reminds us that God is the Omnipotent God of all things whose power can not be overcome.  Jesus asks us to be patient and wait upon God to respond and to act.  Jesus promises us that nothing worldly will separate us from the God who created each of us, knows and loves us by name.  God will answer us.  God will keep us.  The world screams at us that if we wait upon God, it will be too late.  We will be destroyed.  God’s word shows us clearly the consequences of destruction that come by listening and acting like the world, versus the blessings and victory that come when we wait upon and then act in concert with Him.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we know that You are Creator and All Powerful God.  Yet we also confess and ask forgiveness when, in response to the world, we act first without coming to You.  Pour out Your Spirit upon us, Most Merciful Father, that we would have the patience and strength to resist the temptation to act impulsively on our own and come first into Your Presence with our petition for help.  That we would have the faith that proclaims all victory comes to those who will wait upon You, All Loving Father.  In the Name of Jesus Chris we pray.  Amen

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