Summary: Full of good stories & help understanding what patience really is
TEXT: Galatians 5:22-25
The Fruit of the Spirit - Part 4: Patience
I love to hear people define certain words to me. It really lets you know their perspective on the matter. For instance, you may ask someone what the word “love” means. One person, after a recent break-up, may say that love is blindness & deception. But ask them again when things aren’t so gloomy & they may have the opinion that love is bliss & wonderful. Two totally different opinions on the same word. So it’s no wonder that people have different perspectives on patience.
Some may think it implies a relaxed & laidback attitude regarding life. This applies to the grandma who sits at a green light, still looking both ways to make sure it’s safe to drive through the intersection. As I barrel down the streets of Katy, I think about patience in my life. And I think driving is a good illustration, so we’ll stick with that. After watching a 200 mph NASCAR race, I’m prone to go a little faster than the state recommends. However, I can be in a mood where I want to take a nice & slow drive. “Always take the scenic route,” as Robert Fulgham says. So some times, it’s nice to slow down. But how is it in our minds, that anyone who drives slower than us is a moron & anyone who drives faster than us is a maniac.
I’ve actually been contemplating for some time to go buy a swing for the back porch. It would be nice to sit for awhile with my wife & daughter, sip on some hot apple cider & swing away. “But, who’s got time for that,” I think to myself. And back into the impatient mode I go.
When I think about patience, which is not too often unfortunately, I think about being a father. Now that is patience personified. Other than love, I don’t know of any quality that fatherhood requires outside of patience. You see, fathers are told in Proverbs 19:11, “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” So we think, I’ll just go easy on the kid. Yes, he put a peanut butter & jelly sandwich in the VCR, but if you’re wise you should overlook the matter. However, Proverbs also tells us confused dads, that if you withhold a good beating, you hate your kid. As you can see, that leaves us in quite a dilemma. Should we overlook an offense & thus be deemed wise, patient & hateful? Or should we give him the beating of a lifetime, yet be stupid, impatient & loving. Fatherhood is so much more complicated than I ever imagined.
I don’t think anyone who ever lived exemplified patience, as did Moses. When we think of Moses, several different scenarios & stories may catch our attention. But I want us to focus on a certain time period in Moses’ eventful & long life. This time period lasted 40 years, but it’s not the 40 years where he walked around in the desert with the other liberated slaves. It’s the 40 years prior to that.
If you look back in the Genesis, you discover why Israel had their own land. The Egyptians hated shepherds & thought they were of the lowest class. Thus, the land of Goshen became their home. Moses had quite a demotion when he left Egypt. He went from being son to a shepherd. He went from being loved to being loathed. There are many people who feel that they are in dead-end jobs, but I would say that a shepherd takes the cake.
Basically, you sit & watch sheep all day & all night. You protect them from predators. You help the mama sheep give birth to the lambs. You talk to them, you play with them, you stink like them, but you have a bond with them. Then one day, you shear them & kill them for food. It’s kind of like shaving your best friend’s head & inviting the family over for barbeque.
Even though there aren’t many shepherds around anymore, we can still learn a lot from them. One thing in particular, is their staff. It’s hooked end helps lift lambs from dangerous places & ledges; it’s blunt end is to strike would-be attackers to protect the flock; it also serves as a cane to help steady the shepherd as he walks with the flock. And to think, Moses did this undesirable & unfulfilling job for 40 years.
In the summer after my sophomore year in college, I stayed with my parents in DeQueen, Arkansas. It was not a big town; it was not an exciting town. As a matter of fact, the town stunk. But that was largely in part to the chicken processing plant that was on the outside of town. One day, I got the news from my father, “You’ve got a job interview at Pilgrim’s Pride chicken plant.” I was, of course, less than thrilled. I began reflecting, “What have I done to my father to deserve this? Was I a terrible son, that I should have to endure a chicken processing plant for the summer?” I told my father that they had better have an office job for me.