Life in the Slow Lane

Ephesians 4:2
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

If only everyone could be born with a remote control. Sitting in a traffic jam or waiting in line at the store, we could simply press “FAST FORWARD,” and be on our merry way. We could relive a favorite moment with “REWIND.” Someone could be standing right in front of us hurling insults, and…oops! Did I just hit “DELETE?” Or I could just learn to be patient. Patience is, after all, a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that “love is patient…” Ironically, that verse is so simple that I sometimes impatiently race right on by it. If I love the Word, then I need to be patient with it, i.e., take the time to reflect on what I am reading. When I stopped to think about the meaning of that verse, I realized how much I desperately needed patience in my life. One morning I actually caught myself nagging the toaster to “hurry up.” I think it only mocked me by taking twice as long and spewing out the charred remains of my whole grains. It was a meaningful lesson that sometimes you can ruin something by rushing it.

Our culture is definitely stuck on FAST FORWARD. Everything from fast food restaurants to ATM’s to online shopping, caters to our constant demand to have it NOW! Drivers are in a bad mood during the morning commute because they are in a hurry, and everyone else is in their way. Remember the old days when people would acknowledge one another while walking? Pedestrians in big cities now flow like a school of salmon rushing upstream toward some more important event.

The root cause of all of this impatience is selfishness. I want my toaster to hurry up because I need my toast, and I am important. I want drivers to get out of my way because I am late. I don’t have time to say hello to someone, because I have more important things to do. It’s a good thing Jesus never treated us this way! In the ultimate act of unselfishness, the only thing he was in a hurry to do was to fulfill the scriptures, even if it meant having to hasten his death.

John 13:27
As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. “What you are about to do, do quickly,” Jesus told him,

Never before have I needed more patience than now while I am raising three young children. I could feel sorry for myself if it wasn’t for the fact that God is raising millions of children, and He puts up with plenty worse than I do. Imagine having a world full of kids who act like we do sometimes. Yet, the Bible tells us that God is kind, tolerant and patient.

Romans 2:4
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance?

Many people think that children are impatient, but I am discovering that they are even more patient than most adults. The other day I was urging my 5 year old to hurry up in the bathroom when she hit my heart with, “I’m sorry I’m so slow, Mommy. I still have a lot to learn.” Of course she’s right; kids have a huge learning curve to deal with, and for the most part they take it in stride. The instructions in Proverbs leave us older “children” without excuse, as wisdom and understanding fall on the side of patience.

Proverbs 14:29
A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly.

Proverbs 19:11
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Another verse tells us that a righteous man falls seven times and gets up again (Prov. 24:16). Think about how patient God and Jesus are with us to continually pick us up off the ground, dust us off, and give us another chance. They don’t roll their eyes in irritation and say, “Here we go again.”

When professional athletes fall, there is approximately zero patience and tolerance in the arena. I’ll never forget some hockey games I attended with my dad when I was young. These were trained professionals, but when someone would make a bad play, the so-called “fans” would boo and start chants of “Loser!” and other insults. I remember sitting there thinking how that athlete and his family felt at that moment. Today I think that if Jesus had been there, he would have walked across the ice and reached out to the player, encouraging him to “get back in the game.”

By the time Peter walked on the water to Jesus and started to fall, he had already had plenty of previous “falls.” Thankfully, Jesus did not take Peter’s history into consideration when he reached out to catch him and help him back to the boat. He wasn’t too busy to help, nor too irritated by Peter’s shortcomings.

When I am walking with my children, I constantly prod them to hurry. I get impatient having to stop and wait while they explore every flower, rock, and leaf. I say things like, “Don’t dilly-dally,” “Don’t be a slow poke,” and “Will you pleeeeease hurry up?” Recently it hit my heart that I am supposed to be as patient with others as the Lord has been with me. What if during my “walk” with him, he treated me the same way? How did he treat the Apostle Paul when he was a little slow on the uptake, murdering Christians in his spare time? Paul tells us the answer:

1 Timothy 1:16
But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

Many years ago, “What Would Jesus Do” (WWJD) became the catch phrase of Christians worldwide. While it is extremely beneficial to reflect on the virtues of our Lord, I believe that a much more effective phrase would be DWJD–”Do What Jesus Did.” Colossians 3:12 tells us to clothe (a verb!) ourselves with patience. The Bible is replete with actions that we are supposed to be doing.

James 1:22
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

We could spend a lot of time thinking about how Jesus was patient, but wouldn’t it be better to just do what he did? I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be a lot nicer to my toaster tomorrow.

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