Sunday, May 11, 2008

He is patient

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience....
Galatians 5:22, CSB


Father, you are truly a patient God. Before you even created the universe, you made a plan for the entire future of mankind. You planned the first people and put them in the garden, knowing they would sin against you. But, in your mysterious plan, you already knew what they would do in rebellion, and you knew what you would do for redemption. From the beginning, your plan was to make your glory known through the redemption brought by your Son Jesus. Looking forward, across a thousand generations, you set your plan in motion and waited for the fullness of time, until the time was right to send your Son. And after your Son redeemed your people, you continued your plan and are patient through this day, for you still have more to come. You will one day send Jesus back to lay claim to his kingdom and set everything under his authority. You did these things patiently, according to your plan for your glory.

And you have taught your people patience. You chose Abraham, not when he was young and strong, but when he was old and without hope of anyone to carry on his name. Not only did you allow his name to continue, you made his name great. And you did it on your own timing, even though he and Sarah tried to form their own plan to accomplish your plan. We must be patient according to your promises.

And you sent Joseph ahead of his people to Egypt to prepare a place for them. You told him that one day his brothers would bow before him. And you sent him, not at the moment he was needed, but many years ahead. But, he was patient and saw your plan fulfilled when his family came to him for deliverance from the famine.

And your people found patience necessary as they were enslaved in Egypt. And when Moses ran into the desert, you called him. But, you did not send him back to Egypt right away. Again, like Abraham, you waited until Moses was old and had no strength but you. And when he pleaded his own incompetence to accomplish your mission, you assured him that it would never be him who accomplished anything. But, it is you who accomplishes through your people. And when Moses returned to Egypt, you did not immediately rescue your people. But, you showed your glory, patiently, to Pharaoh and to the people of Egypt. And, when the time was right, you led your people out of Egypt and on to the path of discipleship.

You gave Moses your law. And in your law, you gave a glimpse of your coming Son. You established a system of laws and rituals, sacrifices for atonement, that could never bring people redemption or sanctification. But, you set these in place to prepare the way for your Son.

And over the next centuries, you bore patiently with your rebellious people. You sent many prophets to warn them and teach them. And despite their continual rejection of your glory, you never failed to bring yourself glory through them.

And when the time was right, you took another old man and old woman and gave them a son to serve as Elijah and prepare the way for the coming Messiah. And you sent your messenger to a young woman to tell her you were finally going to bring salvation to your people. How glorious is your patience because no matter how long you wait, no matter how much time passes, no matter how many struggles occur in the meantime, your people can know, without fail, that nothing--absolutely nothing--ever stands in the way of your will. And when you promise, you make it come to pass.

And before the birth of your Son, religious men in the east had been watching the skies. And they saw the sign you placed there, a star to show the way.

And Jesus grew up in a simple family, in a simple hamlet. And he waited patiently for your timing. When he was at the wedding and his mother told him about the wine, he merely said that his time had not yet come. He was not in a hurry to move ahead of your plan, but he was content to wait patiently and follow your lead and your timing.

And when the time was right, you had your Son lifted up and glorified. And now he waits patiently for the timing of your plan for his return. For only you, Father, know the time when you will complete your plan.

In the meantime, you continue to work in your people, through your Son and your Spirit. And you continue to teach us patience. When Paul was walking on the road to Damascus, Jesus stopped him and saved him. But, Paul did not immediately become the missionary to the Gentiles. Instead, he waited patiently for many years as he learned about the real you. As a Pharisee, he thought he knew you. But, only time with you, by your Spirit, would allow him to really know you. And he waited before he appeared to the apostles and was commissioned to bring the good news to the Gentiles. And he waited patiently, through imprisonments and numerous trials, as you showed him your power and showed others your glory through him.

And Peter, the rock you built from a weakling, encouraged your people to never think you are slow in keeping your promises. You are not slow, but rather you are patient in bringing about your plan, because your patience allows more and more people to have time to come to you and be adopted into your family. Thank you, God, for being patient with your people and giving us time to find redemption in your Son and to grow by your Spirit. Thank you, God, for giving us time to share your good news with the world and enjoy the grace you have let overflow in us. May we, God, have the courage and passion to take every moment, not letting any go to waste, to bring you honor and glory and praise.

And even in Revelation, Father, when your martyrs cry out for deliverance, you tell them to wait patiently for the total number of them to join their ranks. For you have a plan, a great, mysterious, unfathomable plan. And what you plan you bring to completion.

Father, may we always remember that you are a God who controls everything and knows everything. Nothing escapes your notice. Nothing is too great for you to accomplish. And nothing is too small to enjoy your care. May we remember that your creation, while it groans for deliverance, is entirely your creation. We are yours because you made us and you chose us. We owe everything to you. May we not try to make ourselves gods and think we know better than you when the timing is right for anything. May we trust you completely; may we rely on you and find our security in you. And may we remember that your Holy Spirit has been given to us as a guarantee, to put your seal on us and mark us as your possession, so that we can know for certain you, who began a good work in us, will carry on to completion.

Father, I praise you and honor you in the name of Jesus whose death bought me the redemption my soul needed, and who became the firstborn among many children you have adopted into your family.

May all the glory and honor and praise be to you. Amen.

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