Sunday, March 02, 2008


In the western world we live by our watch. It orders us around and determines when we are under stress and when we can relax for a moment. But precious time demands too much of us to let those moments come very often. This consumption with time naturally results in a dramatic loss of love and relationship. All too often we don't even see needs around us in our hurry to get wherever it is we need to go next. If I'm meeting with a friend for coffee, I have ONE hour. No more. I have been noticing and shuddering at my slavery to the clock lately, and was prodded again when I spent time this afternoon in Henri Nouwen's "Compassion" (one of my favorite books). Nouwen talks about patience being the discipline of compassion. He discusses impatience as being an obsession for us to get out of the current moment and on to the next. I can relate, especially when it hits 5am after a long night of work, or I'm stuck in traffic, or in the middle of a dry sermon. God has placed me in that situation for a purpose. Why? I want to find out, and start celebrating and watching for Him instead of walking in impatience.

"But when patience prevents us from running from the painful moment in the false hope of finding our treasure elsewhere, we can slowly begin to see that the fullness of time is already here and that salvation is already taking place. Then, too, we can discover that in and through Christ all human events can become divine events in which we discover the compassionate presence of God." (pg. 98)

Nouwen also calls us to remember the moments either alone or with loved ones when time seemed to stand still. When it just didn't matter. When everything in the world seemed right because we realized that God is above time and place. I can remember a small handful of these moments very clearly. One was in Mozambique when I was out watching the sun come up (a fairly regular occurrence) and listening to the voices of birds on a beautiful, deserted path. I am quite sure it was the happiest moment of my life. Despite turmoil on every side, I felt peace and everything seemed right in the world. I want to experience more of those moments, and know that I need to be willing to give up my obsession with scheduling and embrace God's perfect timing. I want Him to show me things that I would miss otherwise, and to spend more time loving others.

As much as we hate to admit it or pray for it, God demands patience of us. Little by little we must learn that patience is not a form of discipline to be abhorred, but a beautiful attribute of God that He wants to develop in us, for His glory.

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