The word “patience” seems so simple, but its reality packs a punch. Patience is something that I struggle with daily…and those closest to me would love nothing more than to testify to that truth. But hey, growing up in a world where things happen instantaneously makes it a little hard to pause, relax, or wait for whatever is to come.
However, when it comes to patience, it isn’t the big unplanned life events that knock me down. No, the biggest kickers reveal themselves in the small mundane things that differ from my original plans. A few of these disturbances resemble the following: canceled appointments, traffic jams, red lights, spilled coffee, or loud people. Sound familiar?
For me, at least, it’s not the major, life-altering issues that take up the majority of my time. Instead, it is these little-bitty, teeny-weeny, small, unaccounted for mistakes that occur throughout the day ruining my ideal plan and expectation. It’s the little things.
Not too long ago, I found myself in the middle of a momentary breakdown. For the past few months, I have been planning my wedding and there have been more than a couple of sudden breakdowns. However, most of those breakdowns occurred not because anything had gone wrong; it just wasn’t what I envisioned. Because of that, I crumbled. I said things I shouldn’t have, and I may or may not have acted a fool when it is was not required. Yet, shortly after composing myself and picking up the scattered pieces of my day, I grabbed a book and found an Oswald Chambers quote hidden within. It read:
“Is there anything competing for our strength in our devotion to the call of God? It is not the devil, but the ‘little foxes that spoil the vines – the little annoyances, the little actual things that compete for our strength.”
Just like that, it all made sense.
I serve the God of perfection. He literally has never done anything wrong. But here I am reeling over a cancelation? The devil doesn’t have to use all of his darkness to overtake us. He just has to distract us from the main picture – glorifying the Lord. If we are so wrapped up in our ideal visions of perfection, we miss out on the accurate portrayal of perfection, which is Christ and His will for our lives.
Thankfully, the goal for perfectionism is nothing new. The Lord gave us the story of Mary and Martha to give hope to the perfectionist.
Now, as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her,” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV).
The truth is, it is a lot easier for me to act like Martha instead of Mary. Like Martha, I want everything to be beautiful enough to impress whoever is attending. I relate to her determination to get everything done to impress her guest.
After reading this story for probably the sixth time, I pondered how I would act if Jesus were attending my home for dinner. I’d love to tell you I’d be at His feet, but every day since I accepted Him…He’s been in my heart, and sometimes I find myself so consumed with daily tasks that I forget to acknowledge Him. Why would it be different if He were here in the flesh?
That realization stung even more than the idea of patience.
Since then, I’ve had a new revelation concerning patience, and it’s quite simple: we need it. In our fast-paced lives, we need nothing more than to remember that we are sons and daughters of the Most High. We must focus on His plans instead of our own. Are we really letting a change of plans alter our attitude? I certainly hope not!
Little annoyances can often be deafening. Yet, when we step back and look at the reason for our service, it should be nothing less than laying it all down at our Maker’s feet, giving over our hearts to His perfect plan. Our minor annoyances may take away many things, but may they never steal our devotion to our Savior.
The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride (Ecclesiastes 7:8 NIV).