The art of active patience. I call it an art because there is so much beauty behind this simple concept. We create goals, we look forward to the future, and we often wish we could just skip the wait. Before we dive further into the value of patience, I think it is valuable to back up a little bit and create a big-picture foundation. We will be focusing specifically on this season of patience, but we must first define what it is we are waiting for.
Back it up: Take a second and evaluate what it is that you are striving for. When we find patience difficult, there is often something specific which our heart longs for. We want it today and we don’t want to go through the pain and heartache that often lingers in the wait. What does your heart long for? In what area do you desire to apply this idea of active patience? I would warn you that the joy and peace which comes with patience can be dependent on your goal.
The beauty in the wait goes hand in hand with a follower’s desire to strive after God’s plan, not their own. This month we will not be focusing on the best way to create a goal or even the benefits of making goals. But inevitably when talking about patience, there has to be a goal or something we are having patience for and I would challenge you to take a moment and write down those areas which you are striving for and ask God into that vision for your future. I can tell you from experience, you will only receive that beautiful joy and peace when your plans are God’s plan.
Goals: Goals are a wonderful thing, they keep us motivated, focused, and moving forward. Having a very Type A personality, I love structure and goals. I have to constantly remind myself that while goals can be a very good thing, it can be a very slippery slope into simply blocking God out of my plans. Ideas such as “self-dependence” and “having it all figured out” are quick to creep into our minds. Graduating high school, I was hit with this truth head-on. I looked forward to implementing my post-graduation plan of attending a four-year school and graduating with a good paying job, the dream of many high school seniors. God made it very obvious to me in that season that my plan was not what He had for me. Looking back a few years later, I can see how those goals would have hindered God’s perfect plan for my life. The first step of understanding the peace and joy found in patience is to make sure that what we are striving after is within God’s plan. You may not get a clear sign or feel complete peace with your current path but the first step is to place your future in God’s hands and be willing to follow His direction.
Let’s look at this idea of goals in a new light. Instead of thinking of specific goals such as a job promotion or educational achievement, stop and think of the big things, in the future, which you look forward to. Personally, many of my “life goals” are reflective of my nature as a woman. God has designed me to desire a family and desire to care and nurture others, as a result, I look forward to the day where God may if it is in His plan, will bless me with those opportunities.
Action: Take a moment and pen down what you are striving for. This doesn’t have to be formal, grab a napkin or the back of a receipt but it is very important to determine those things which you desire in the future.
“I desire to have a family of my own, children and a husband to care for. I look forward to the day, if it is in His plan, when God will bless me with these opportunities.” – Brianna
Now that we have determined what we desire for the future we can come back to the present. It is easy to dream about the future, what we desire to change, and how we desire it to all work out. The present is a little more daunting, we have control of today and what we do now determines how those dreams will turn out. Next month, we will be looking at how our everyday faithfulness determines our growth, but for this month we will be staying big picture: what is our goal, does it line up with God’s will, and how might He be molding us today for that goal.
Underneath your goal, jot down a few examples of how your everyday life reflects your desire to reach this goal. What are you doing today that is developing you into the person you want to be? This is an opportunity to be brutally honest with yourself. Have I been making positive steps towards my goal?
“I am currently working on my own personal relationship with God. I desire to strengthen my faith and knowledge in order to fulfill God’s will for my life.” – Brianna
This self-awareness of our everyday decisions and actions is a great first step to understanding active patience. What does God have for us for today? When our desires are in line with God’s will, He will reveal that He has so much to teach us. These lessons are often necessary prior to God fulfilling those desires. Thus, there is action involved in patience.
Surrender: While I may desire to be in a relationship and eventually have a family of my own, I have no idea how God desires to mold me before I am ready for that blessing. Personally, I have found the key to patience is accepting that I don’t know how God is working and what He has planned. The stress of the unknown is relieved because we trust that God has it under control. In the next post, we will look at the action behind active patience. I hope that through this conversation today that you will stop and first evaluate what you are striving towards, and begin the process of turning over your plans to God and trusting His perfect plan.
“Now to Him who can do immeasurably more than we can ever ask or imagine…” (Ephesians 3:20, emphasis added)
Keep your notebook nearby. Next week we will be looking more at action and I will be sharing my personal experience with patience. This is real life and next week I will share some of my own personal trials and doubt. Be thinking of the big picture this week and be prepared to dive into the everyday choice of joyful patience in the weeks to come.